Four years ago when I found out that I was going to be a grandmother…four years BEFORE I thought I was ready to be a grandmother and most definitely four years BEFORE I thought my first born was ready to be a mother, I found myself confronted with a real parenting dilemma. I always promised my children and myself that I would love them unconditionally…no matter what…even if they did disappoint me…or seriously messed up…or ended up being someone I didn’t want them to be. I did promise that and I meant it. Truly. But when my child came and told me that she was alone and pregnant, I found myself faced with just that.
How should I react?
What do I say?
What do I do?
I hugged her and told that no matter what she did her Daddy and I were going to be with her. She would not be alone.
Here’s where I confess that inside I was beyond upset, stressed and worried for my little girl. I wasn’t 50 yet…which means I wasn’t old enough to be a grandparent…which means she wasn’t old enough to be a mom…she needed to finish school first…she needed the baby’s daddy to be there for her. WTF?! This is not what we planned or what we expected or what we taught her to be or do. What were we all going to do??!!
As the weeks passed and we began preparing for Holly’s Coming Attraction, she shared with me that her circle of friends were genuinely shocked that her parents weren’t angry and had not kicked her out or something like that…for getting knocked up…and being alone…and not being done with school…and not having the income to support herself and a baby…for choosing to have the baby…because that is what their parents would totally do. That made my heart sad to hear that. I mean, what would that solve? She would still be pregnant, alone and vulnerable. The way I saw it was this was definitely a time when she needed her parents’ unconditional love more than ever. It was that time that I began to really realize just how hard that promise could be…would be…and yet how important that promise would be to my children…no matter what they did or who they were. Then I resolved to continue to uphold that promise because I was doing it for the first born child…you KNOW I was going to have to do it with the others because they do carefully compare everything.
But in all seriousness, I stood by one kid in such a situation how could I not do the same for all my children because, like it or not, they often do crazy things that you don’t plan for like flunk out of school or wreck your car or end up being young, single and pregnant or fall in love with someone you can not stand or tell you that they are gay or join the Tea Party or the New Black Panther Movement, or decide to major in Quidditch…or…or…well, there can be so much more worse things. Still they are your children. They still need you. They still need to know that you love them no matter what.
Who said this parenting thing is so much easier once they get out of diapers? Fools! It is harder. Factor in the fact you are nurturing thinking, brilliant human beings whom you raised and nurtured to believe that they are brilliant and they can do anything. Trust me. You are not done…oh, and you could be screwed.
In the news this week was a sermon preached by Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Christian Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina about marriage. His message was timely because next week’s state vote on an amendment to the state’s constitution that will effectively ban gay marriage in the state of North Carolina. Don’t get me started on the whole idea of preaching politics from the pulpit while expecting government to respect the First Amendment rights. That’s another discussion. This is about Pastor Harris’ exhortation to his congregation on how to deal with their children.
So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, ‘Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,’ you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign [sic] her in. And you say, ‘Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.
Here is the audio clip…trust me it is disturbing to hear…and here is the sermon in its entirety.
Thank goodness he was just joking and he really didn’t mean it. And thankfully, he apologized, er, retracted it.
But the damage is done. In the name of Jesus he stood before a congregation and said exactly what he says he didn’t mean to say. And it got spread all over the webs. The thing is some people do believe it. In one moment their lips and voices are praising God and the next those same lips and voices are condemning…hating people who are different. I see it all the time with people I know and am acquainted with…people I have sat with in a church. For years I reminded myself that this was not Jesus…not at all. But it is getting so much harder to believe…to ignore. How can one reconcile the promise to their children to love them with an unconditional love like that of Christ when they are agreeing with, amen-ing such hate speech from the pulpit? Imagine that one child sitting in that church last Sunday who might be thinking maybe…or perhaps they know they are gay and are trying to figure out a way to tell Mom and Dad. My heart hurts for that hypothetical child much like it did when Holly shared with me her friends reactions four years ago. The way I see it this might be one of those parenting moments where your child needs to know that you love them no matter what.
And here is where I reiterate my promise to my children…
It is at this moment, this very moment, my son comes down stairs with a goofy grin on his face as he models one of his sister’s girly blouses that he grabbed while “helping” his sister fold her laundry.
And just as Pastor Sean predicted, here I am taking a picture of it and putting it here on my blog…because it is funny…because we are a bunch of silly clowns…because we all laugh over Daniel’s silly sense of humor and the fact that he is the only boy-child in this house that estrogen built. And because we are so damn lucky that this child is our child. And because here under the Big Top we celebrate the normal, the love, the silly all the time.
Don’t worry Pastor Sean, his Daddy stepped up and told him to “get outside and dig a ditch because that is what boys do”…while he laughed, hugged and tickled his silly boy.
Why is it that I am imagining that if Jesus was here right now he would be laughing along with us at this amazing, remarkable child of God?