Friday, September 6, 2013

My First Day As a Grandpa-Nanny

Today I began my new Friday responsibility as a Grandpa-Nanny for our youngest grandson, Silas.  My schedule as a pastor is rather hectic, including lots of evening and weekend responsibilities, but over the years I have tried diligently to take Friday as a day away from my vocational work.  It has always been pleasant for me, but today begins a whole new chapter for me in experiencing a Friday "sabbath."

Silas's parents are both teachers, so when they were earlier discussing day care plans, I offered to be responsible for the Friday of their week.  In times when I have another commitment, Claudia and I will work out an arrangement for Silas.  Silas is fortunate to have another very loving set of grandparents; his other grandmother provides Monday care for him.

I can't begin to describe what a sheer joy this is for me.  I so enjoy our older three grandchildren and relish each opportunity to be with them, so to have a protracted period of time to nurture young Silas is such a delight.  I left our home before 6 am this morning to arrive at his home in time for last-minute instructions before his parents were off to teach others' children for the day.  I have been anticipating this for so long that I had a difficult time sleeping last night.  When the alarm went off this morning I was up without hesitation, quickly showering and dressing, taking our dog Quin for the quickest morning walk of his life and then jumping into the car with my laptop and assorted reading materials.

My first hour this morning with Silas was a little disruptive (for me more than him), but after some carrying with his face to my shoulder and some bouncing on my knee he slipped into the contented quiet of an early morning nap.  An hour or so later he began to stir, so I picked him up and fed him his four ounces of formula, attempted a burp and patiently rocked him until he fell back asleep.  It is two hours later now, and I can see his little feet moving beneath his pajamas, but his eyes are still closed.

Our son and daughter-in-law (Silas's parents) have a affectionate puggle who has tucked himself between the chair and my left leg, so between Silas on my shoulder and Dexter at my side, I feel surrounded by warmth and peace.  Soon it will be time for me to change Silas's diaper, dress him for the day and get him ready to meet his dad for a trip to the doctor.

I have spent some time this morning in thought and prayer, thanking God for the opportunity to be a part of the second generation.  This is one of the blessings of having been a committed parent to Silas's dad since the time he joined our family when he was eleven years old.  I will always remember the first time I met Kyle (Silas's dad) ... the tentative greeting, the worried countenance, the experience-hardened eyes ... wondering how it might all turn out.  Many times in the past decade and a half I have wondered what it would have been like to bring Kyle home from the hospital from the beginning, to have held him and loved him and nurtured him in those early weeks and months of his life.
Like many adoptive parents of older children, I have wondered, "What did he look like as a baby?  Was he squirmy?  Did he have hair?  How did he sleep?"

And today, as I gaze into the face of my son's son, I find some of those questions answered.

And I am grateful.  So very grateful to have walked this journey, and to have this opportunity to know the next generation in a way that I could not know the first.

A Whole New Generation

Several years ago, when blogging was a new phenomenon, I started a blog I called Bart's Whole New World.  It was a time when all of our ten, eventually twelve, children were still "home," so I used it as a venue to reflect on my experience as an adoptive parent of older children. Those were years when our children were growing into their teenage years (at that time they were ages 19 - 9), and in time it became too emotionally difficult to continue blogging my experiences.  Our children are now ages 26 - 14, and they and I, are in different stages of life.

In one of my final 2011 blog postings, I reflected that in the dark mists of parenting challenging children through a perilous period in their lives, new hope was beginning to shine as I experienced the joys of becoming a grandfather.  Snuggling infant Isaac (our second grandson) warmed my heart to the possibility of hope once again.

Isaac will soon be three.  Our granddaughter Gabby will be four this December.  Our grandson Aiden celebrated his first birthday this past June.  Our newest grandson, Silas, will soon be three months.  My "whole new world" is now more focused on a "whole new generation," and I believe it is time for me to blog again on a regular basis.

If you know about our adoption journey, you know that it has been one inspired by and sustained by our deep and abiding faith in a loving God.  From the first moments that Claudia and I ever talked about foster care and adoption, our conversations have been encased in our biblical understanding that God stands with the stranger, the widow and the orphan.  Christian faith teaches that through Jesus Christ we are adopted into God's family, and that we ought to share that connection with those who, for whatever reasons, are disconnected.  This is the path we have chosen to walk, and it provides many opportunities for deep spiritual reflection.

You may wonder why the address for my new blog is "1000th Generation."  It derives from a reference in the Hebrew Scriptures, in which Moses recounts the promise of God:

I the LORD your God am a jealous God, ... showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:9-10)

I have been an adoptive parent for nearly seventeen years.  Those years have been filled with joy and sorrow, gratitude and regret, fulfillment and diminishment, unrest and peace, discontentment and contentment.  I have often had a hard time making sense of the experience on several levels -- emotionally, psychologically, spiritually.

I have been a grandparent for nearly four years.  I am coming to a new understanding that perhaps adoption is as critical for the next generation -- maybe even more critical -- than for the first.  And that's what I will be exploring in this blog.