Happy Birthday Plum

We were asked in our final small group meeting to answer the big question, “Why are you a Christian?”  As someone whose life is littered with messes and filled with hurts, my answer was that I just couldn’t live without my faith. My belief in God, in His redemption, in His grace, that gets me out of bed when I want to wallow, when I want to give in and give up. I keep seeking joy, finding my blessings in the midst of the pain because they are there, sometimes as difficult to spot as Waldo but my job is to keep hunting them out among the distractions. I am a Christian because my life would have absolutely no meaning, I would have no hope without the promises of God.

As I pondered my role as a believer, I began to see the similarities to my role as grandma. Without my sweet joy bringer, my Plum, I would linger on the couch, no need to make dinner or cookies or find the vinegar and baking soda for another experiment. My Plum carries the weight of my hope, I carry his as well. We delight in each other much as God must delight in His children. My whole body gains energy when I know it is time for Plum to be here, like I am coming our of hibernation. After too much “me” time ruminating on hurts, I rush to the bus stop to find purpose. He brings a flurry of his own activity and energy, rapid changes with each visit. Reading and math are becoming so easy, still we sneak in our pretend games when no one is around. I plan for Lego play, he has a handful of Pokemon cards we have to discuss. Next time I plan for Pokemon and he has his eye on the Play-doh, something he hasn’t touched in years. I can no longer anticipate where he will take us. I just follow and sneak in a kiss when I can.  I accept my role as snack provider, back up voice to characters he doesn’t want to be, and listener.

Six years ago today Mama’s water broke right upstairs from where I write these words. Stella was here, she was meant to be the birth coach. Chef ran around for garbage bags to put on the car seats, he needed a task. I drove Mama and Stella to the hospital, Chef took another car to go pick up Arrow.  We converged on the hospital, all ready to meet the one, the child who would unite this family, bind us all together. Mama had an unexpected C-section, nothing went quite as we planned, that is certainly the case since. Arrow and Stella have scattered, Mama struggled for a while to find her way, leaving the parenting of this babe to Chef and I for extended periods. We have stepped in and back so many times,  a real life hokey-pokey fraught with pain and distrust, wrong moves. We also keep asking for a fresh start, offering one. We are big on fresh starts. I think Jesus calls that forgiveness.

Loving my Plum has taken all of me, the nights we had to retrain him to sleep, the horrible times we have had to send him back when he was begging to stay. Many days  I don’t want to play mud, I don’t want to clean up the house again from another experiment. Then I flash to his delight and the mess making commences.  More recently his fascination with battling games where I am always assigned the bad guy and I always lose, even as I restructure the game to include my more peaceful philosophy, I am challenged to find that sweet baby that I held and sang to, rocked and looked at, always just looking at him. I still just watch him, he is so very expressive, I wait for his gaze to land on me, one of his knowing smiles to seek me out. I feel like God smiles at me in those moments, my soul rejoices. I hear the Hallelujah chorus, I know these moments are the point of it all, the reminder that grace and hope are sitting right here at my table. I keep learning that loving people, real people, is hard. It takes everything I have most days to be as forgiving as God wants me to be, to be as selfless as He asks. Plum reminds me it is worth the effort, the pay out is that singing chorus, the joyful soul when God says He is pleased with me.

Plum’s eyes shine when he smiles, those blue eyes that were my mother’s, his father’s, mine and now his. I looked into those eyes when they were my moms, seeking love and approval. I was disappointed. She looked back with her own brokenness, unable to give what I needed. I looked into those eyes of my son, his brokenness matching my own, we are connected so deeply that all efforts of his to reject it fail. I have looked into those eyes in the mirror, often seeing shame back. God has given me another chance to see us all through those same eyes, to see us as a long line of people who have hurt each other but loved still. People who can never be perfect but can show the love of God to each other with fresh starts and willingness to play even when we want to stay on the couch. This is our chance to see God’s redemption through those blue eyes. I accept.

Today is my Plum’s 6th birthday. He will have a party, get gifts, blow out candles.  One day he may realize he has always been the greatest gift to me. I am blessed to be his Gran. Thank God we still get to snuggle for book time at the end of the evening, that he still climbs on my lap occasionally. I crave those times when he surrenders into my embrace, when he allows me to just feel the warmth of him, smell his little boy scent as we ease into the night. Those are the times I remember the babe I gently put in the crib and then stared at, unable to look away from the miracle before me. I celebrate my joy bringer today and pray he never stops asking me to play even when I have to be the bad guy.  He knows my imperfections and loves me still, reminds me to surrender into the arms of my God who delights in my smile and watches with me adoration even when I have made a mess of the day.  He offers me a fresh start. He brought this child into my life, a joy bringer, my Plum, the greatest gift I have ever received, a child of grace. Happy birthday Plum. You are my favorite. I love you so very very much.

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