A Place to Sleep

We’re staring down the home stretch of this pregnancy to a due date.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve finally let myself do some of the things.  We organized some closets.  We ordered some size one diapers (I grow big babies).  My mom graciously washed newborn clothes and bottles and we put them in their place.  I’m starting to believe this may actually happen.  This baby may be born healthy and strong.  It may even come home.

FDED7223-92A4-4B24-989B-40B209C6C3F0We’re more minimalist than I thought I would be as a parent.  No perfectly decorated nursery for Emerson or this next child.  Our plan for this one is a pack and play in the office till sleeping through the night is a thing.  Then, both children will share.  I’ve gone back and forth feeling guilty about this.  Should my children have perfectly decorated rooms?  Shouldn’t I have a picture to post of that?

I’ve started to think about some of the newborn things.  Schedules.  Breast feeding.  Pumping.  How to juggle two children.  Laundry.  Bottle washing.  All the things.  I’ve started to ask a few questions of others about what the next few months may look like.  I’m in a few mom Facebook groups that I’ve started to pay more attention to recently as I watch discussions about naps and feedings.  I’ve read about the exhaustion and frustration.

We had set aside today to have some fun with Emerson and to do some good cleaning of our house.  Nothing says I’m 38 weeks pregnant with an object the size of a watermelon in my belly like scrubbing a toilet.  Well we had set aside today to only focus on some cleaning.

F8AAA42C-46F4-4DB2-AE64-B6C600CD25D0Late yesterday I received a message from a pregnant teenager saying she needed a place to live, 11 weeks pregnant and very unsure of what her future holds.  Then Donte needed our help today too.  He’s been out of a 3-month-jail-stay for a probation violation (maybe more about that in the future) for less than 48 hours and is already running out of options.  Smith and Smith Social Services was open for business.  I was researching pregnancy housing one minute and editing our list of resources for Donte to call the next.  JR was on the phone with him planning a route on public transportation for them to meet so Donte could borrow a computer to do some research.

IMG_2159I think about these three people – my “first” boy Donte, this pregnant teenager, and her unborn child – they aren’t sure where they are going to sleep in the near future.  While we were a little distracted at times today, I explained to Emerson that we were helping Donte find a bed in which to sleep.

“A big bed?” She asked.  She’s very fascinated with the idea of a big bed right now.  She had one for three days in June and then was demoted for bad behavior on my birthday.

“Yes, honey a very big bed.  Donte is taller than the door.  He used to sleep in the bed in your room.”

Then we prayed for Donte to find a safe bed.

It’s easy to fall into the middle-class motherhood trap, where the things matter so much.  I’ve caught myself being tempted by those things in recent days.  But today my heart broke for three people who are worried about something much more basic – where to sleep, what to eat, where to live.

When JR went back to pick up our computer from Donte, I sent him with a packed dinner of anything I could find in our fridge.  Our 6-foot-8-man-boy had only eaten once in 48 hours.

Being a parent is not an easy task, I’m very aware of that.  I’m also aware that its a tremendous gift.    I’m writing tonight to remind myself in a few weeks that when I’m tempted to be overwhelmed by the daily things (the laundry, the spit up, the crying, the lack of sleep) and when I’m tempted to focus on complaining about how hard it is, that all this baby really needs is a safe place to sleep, some food to eat, and some love.  With Jesus in me, I can do all of that.

It’s a broken world we’re bringing a child into.  Today was a painful reminder of that. There are so many “kids” out there who haven’t been given what we hope to give our children.  It’s not as it should be.

One of our favorite children books is “God made light.”  The line that currently makes me teary says, “And on the day you were born God said ‘Let there be light.'” 

With that truth, I hope to bring our next child into the world.  Baby, we want you to be the kind of person that will work to push back darkness in the world.  The kind of person that will love Jesus and be light to those living in brokenness.  We want you to grow up to be an adult who will care for women in crisis pregnancy situations and minority men who have fallen into the broken criminal justice cycle and other people like them.  In the meantime, your mama is going to try her hardest to not sweat the less important stuff (your appearance, your performance, your nursery, nor your schedule).  Hope to see you soon.  If you want to come tonight, that’d be great because the house is perfectly clean and that like never happens.

Singleness didn’t stop her

When Mary was a young woman, she fell in love with a young man.  Her parents disapproved of their relationship continuing because he did not share her Greek heritage.  Mary never married.

Growing up I remember my Great Aunt Mary coming to visit often when we visited my grandparents.  She always came with new frilly dresses for me and was ready to play Uno for hours.  She was a bonus grandma.  When talking about my cousin, Rawlins, and me, she referred to us as “her girls.”  She still does.

When our family wanted to travel to Greece we brought Aunt Mary with us.  She kept up with us all day long and told stories about her travels back to Greece when she was younger.  She introduced us to our extended family on the island of Ikaria after down playing how nice that island would be all week long.  The only part of the trip she missed out on were the nights Rawlins and I spent at the disco.  She encouraged us nightly to find a nice young man to marry.

aunt mary and her girlsEarlier this month my dad’s side of the family gathered together for a family reunion to celebrate Aunt Mary’s 90th birthday.  Since Mary has no children of her own and our family has three generations following hers, almost everyone lovingly refers to her as Aunt Mary.  Eighty people gathered together to celebrate this woman who has been a pillar of our family.  Mary was probably the only person there who knew everyone’s name, how they were related and where they lived now.

Kefalos familyHer singleness hasn’t held her back for a second.  She had a great career.  Her life has been full of travel and adventures.  She’s shaped our family by her deep love and her commitment to all of us.  She has developed deep relationships with so many.  She welcomes nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, and great-grand-nieces and great-grand-nephews like they were her own.  If Dallas makes the national news for weather or tragedy, I know to expect a call from Aunt Mary checking in to see if me, that handsome husband of yours and that adorable baby girl are all alright.  When I think back on my childhood to who loved me best, memories with Aunt Mary always stand out.

Mary and EmersonIt would have been easy for her to separate herself from our family – to be bitter of my Pappou (her brother) who originally hid his marriage to a non-Greek girl instead of playing by his parents’ rules like Mary did.  Instead, Mary chose to enter in with love.  She didn’t have to focus on her own grandchildren; she loved all of us like we were hers.  Poor lady has sent way too many birthday cards and checks.  Mary’s family is bigger than most and deeper than most because of the way she used her availability.

This road hasn’t been easy for Mary.  I know that mainly because she used to always encourage me to find a man, a nice young man to marry.  When I think about the way she lives, there are a few things I always want to remember.  First, love your family deeply.  Show up for them.  Call them.  Even the distant family members.  Second, travel to places you love often.  Mary headed to Greece for the majority of her summers.  She deeply values the culture, the food and the people in that country.  Lastly, accessorize.  Mary’s jewelry is amazing.  She has tons of big bold pieces.  To fully appreciate her, you need to know that.

Mary and all her girlsHow good does that woman look for 90??  #oldgoals



Best friends help friends move

When I was four years old, I met Pati and Billy Martin.  They moved in across the street from us on Devonwood and my mom paraded our family over to their front door with a homemade apple pie in hand.  Billy decided right then and there that our families would be best friends.  Dessert is the way to that man’s heart.  Can’t fault him for that.

Pati, Billy, Jenny and Megan Martin are the other half to the Kefalos family.  Jenny and Megan gave me a taste of what it would be like to have sisters.  We played games in our basements and back yards.  They helped me try to convince my brother to play Barbies.  We made up plays and various performances for our parents.  Our parents took turn babysitting the four of us.  Every other year we went on a family vacation to the beach together.  We ran back and forth between our houses Christmas morning to compare presents. I locked myself in their guest bathroom when we were leaving to catch our plane to move to Houston.  If my mom hadn’t threatened, “If I have to call the fire department to get you out of there I will make your life so miserable you will wish you were still in there,” I probably would still be in that bathroom avoiding a cross country move.

New Years 2000Even once we moved to Texas and the season of playing with the Martins daily came to an end, our families still maintained a close friendship.  Visits, phone calls and family vacations together were still the norm.  Our early memories together as friends have motivated us to continue to pursue friendship despite the distance.

On July 8th, my phone rang with Pati Martin appearing on the caller ID.  Pati and Billy were originally supposed to come to Austin, TX on that day to spend the weekend at my parents’ new lake house.  Mom and Dad were supposed to move in to their new home in early June and the week of the 4th of July was supposed to be the big grand opening.  As happens with construction, the move and the grand opening were pushed back.  My mom had Pati and Billy cancel their trip because she wanted to wait for them to visit when she could host them properly.  When I answered the phone that Friday afternoon, Pati had a simple request, “Can you figure out where your mom is right now, but be sneaky about it?”

Immediately I knew they had come to town anyways.  Pati explained that they knew my parents could use the help unpacking and setting up life in a new home.  I should maybe mention that my mom was also just getting out of a boot for a broken toe and that my parents had hired no help to move their possessions from the garage into the home.  Pati and Billy did not care if my mom wouldn’t be able to wow them with her hostessing abilities in her new home.  They didn’t care that the house had no furniture and the only place to sit was on the steps. They came to spend time with my parents and to help them when they needed it.

It took only a few minutes for me to decide that our family would drive down from Dallas for the weekend as well.  I couldn’t let Pati and Billy fly to Texas without seeing them.  Within the hour, my mom was surprised by Pati and Billy’s arrival and then informed that our family was en route with precious Grandbaby Emerson as well.

We all WORKED that weekend, even Emerson helped sweep floors and unload boxes one piece of Tupperware at a time.  Goodness, a woman can accumulate a lot of Tupperware over 30 years of marriage and the popularity of Tupperware parties in the early 90s.

Emerson cleaningDuring the clean up and setting up, we caught up.  We talked about recent things, important things and dreams for this home we were helping to create.  We laughed about past memories and the adventures we’ve had.  Pati cried when she met Emerson for the first time because it sunk in for the first time that I am a mother now too.

Martins meet EmersonPati and Billy are the type of friends that have seen our family at our best and at our worst.  They have loved our family and served our family in all sorts of situations.  We’ve done the same for them.  They’ve cheered my parents on and encouraged them from across the country.  They have never let distance define our friendships.

They are the type of friends we all need.  The ones that show up when you need them without being asked.  The type that know what you really need even though you will not ask for it.  It’s only best friends that will show up to clean and unpack boxes with you, even 30 of them that are labeled “Knick Knacks” and 20 that are labeled “Miscellaneous Kitchen.”

Best friends show up for the exciting things: weddings, births and birthday parties.  But they also show up for the less glamorous things: funerals, moves and hospital visits.  We don’t need our fringe friends showing up on unpacking day because some of our possessions, collections and clothes from the past several decades are rather embarrassing.  But, best friends help friends move.  I’m thankful my parents have those type of best friends.