Dear Atticus, keeping our promises

Atticus in July

Dear Atticus,

I already wrote about your dedication, but there are some things I didn’t say in that post, because it was focused on my own experiences and on the spiritual aspects. I didn’t tell you much about the day itself.

I have loved every baby dedication at our church, but I hope I will be allowed some indulgence as your mother when I say that yours was something special. As our pastor walked you around, you charmed everyone, laughing and smiling, your body alert and excited to be up and on display in this new place. When people mentioned to me how animated you had been, all I could say was, “He has a lot of personality.” You astonish me with how much personality you manage to pack into such a small body.

One reason you were so happy during your dedication is that you got to be up. From the start, you have loved to be held up. You didn’t have reflux. You just wanted to know more about what was going on. You have never been a baby who enjoyed sitting in laps. You wanted to be up on shoulders, held in a standing position, anything that involved more independence. You are not a cuddler. You want to be out, exploring in your bright and cheerful way. We wish you would cuddle with us, and we appreciate it on those rare occasions when you are sick or tired enough to actually let us hold you.

I said at the time that I was conflicted about promising to raise you in the faith but could better wrap my mind around promising to raise you in the church of people who have already shown that they love you. I want other people to see the wriggly giggly boy we see, so I was delighted that you showed off for your dedication. They already thought you were special, but it was nice that you were so convincing.

I worried about a lot of things as your dedication approached, but of course those were adventures in missing the point. If you had been the first baby to cry throughout the whole thing, or if we forgot to say something, or if someone couldn’t make it, or if you had thrown up on me at the very end of the liturgy (oh, wait, you really did that), it wouldn’t really have mattered. What was important was that we were staking our claim for who we would like to be as a family and asking for the help of the people around us.

I am still conflicted about promising to raise you in the faith. I pray for you many nights as you are nursing before bed, and we review your day and discuss what you are thankful for. Sometimes we read Bible stories, though you would be more interested in touch-and-feel versions, if any were available. When it comes to talking about faith in more specific terms, I don’t know where to begin. I have tried to think through what kind of parent I want to be (this is closely related to the kind of person I want to be in general), and to make small decisions that line up with that bigger picture in mind. My big picture view of you includes a measure of faith. So we made our promises and are fumbling along in our best efforts to keep them.

One day you will play a bigger part of receiving the story of humankind’s relationship with God. And, more specifically, my relationship with God, and your dad’s. The way God is seen throughout the lives of our family and church community. One day you will have to navigate that story for yourself and decide how you will carry it on. For now, though, our memories of that special day and our best efforts at keeping those promises will suffice.

Love,
Mama

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