Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
It was a master plan. Everything had been timed perfectly. We had even made a dry run the day before, calculating the miles and minutes. I was ready. Nothing could stop me from getting my granddaughter, Brooklynn, to her first day of Kindergarten.
I had just spent several days hanging out with Brooklynn and her little sister, Olive, so we had found a groove each morning, effortlessly gliding through breakfast, dressing and even hairbrushing. We had managed to get out the door every morning, taking off for the city of Raleigh; parks, museums, malls. I had gained some grandmother confidence, navigating unknown terrain with one hand on each girl, and delighted at the ease of every day.
So the moment of truth had arrived.
Of course it helped that my daughter-in-law, Erin, had left me a Power Point presentation on how to do all this. She is more organized than I am and I’m very grateful. The new backpack and the new lunchbox gleamed on the counter next to a neatly inscribed list of instructions. OK, piece of cake.
They were up in plenty of time. Brooklynn was happy but unruffled by the significance of the day. They munched on pretzels while I packed her snack. Yes, I know pretzels are not exactly a power breakfast but I had to weigh nutrition next to a potential battle and the pretzel won. Besides, they were big chewy pretzels that I skillfully microwaved.
Next was getting dressed. Mom had put out their new dresses. Brooklynn joyfully slipped hers on as I commented on how pretty she looked. But Olive did not want to wear her new dress. In fact Olive was starting to understand that this was Brooklynn’s first day of something she couldn’t join her in, following just a day after Brooklynn’s fifth birthday, so the resentment meter was beginning to climb.
“I don’t want to wear this dress.” She said. OK, simple.
“Well go find something else to wear,” I told her.
I started on Brooklynn’s hair, pondering a French braid. Olive came down the stairs with a pink leotard that looked like it belonged on a dolly.
“I want to wear this, “ she said, sounding a tad defiant.
“No, Olive. You can’t wear that out. Please go find something else.”
“But I want to wear this!” Now she’s plopped down on the floor. I’m thinking, We didn’t plan for this yesterday. And I’m wondering how many minutes a mini-tantrum might add to our mission. I keep brushing and Brooklynn’s hair is starting to look like a small animal is nesting in it. I feel hot.
“Why don’t you wear that later, Ollie? You can dance for me later.”
It’s not working. She’s crying and I wonder if I can pay her to stop but she’s only three. I tell her we are going to have a really fun day together but it is meaningless. Finally I pull something out of my Mommy past.
“Ollie, if you have to cry, please go upstairs so we don’t have to hear you.”
This always worked for my kids. They’d go to their rooms and then realize it’s profitless to cry where no one can hear you so they’d stop. But Ollie is not buying it. Her wailing grows even louder. The braid is slipping out of my hands and I pull it apart, starting over for the fourth time. I’m sweating.
This is, oddly enough, where prayer seems to really work. I don’t unravel easily. I think I used to, long ago. But the years have taught me that I really do have a friend in Jesus, just like the song says.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Yes, everything. He even cares about a five year olds’ first day of Kindergarten, not to mention a grandma that’s trying to pull it off and the little girl’s mom who is trying not to cry all day. There’s probably more to it but He’s God, not me.
So I ask God to help Ollie feel happy and to help me with the braid. As my fingers work the silky long hair for the fifth time, Olive appears next to me. I glance at her hair, a mass of lovely golden tangled curls and decide: No way. She is smiling now and I’m not going to push it.
“Ama, I’m going to go upstairs and cry now, “she says sweetly, and skips away, and Brooklynn and I both shake our heads and smile at each other. She appears a few minutes later with a handful of clothes and starts to dress. Thank you Lord.
I had lunch with my son Jake and his wife, Kayla a little while ago and I felt compelled to tell them something God had showed me in prayer that morning. I don’t have to worry about my sons. It’s a tremendous gift and I can’t thank God enough for that. He has heard my heart’s cry over the last 12 years, when I felt helpless to do anything but pray, and He has answered. It’s not the way I would have asked for, but I don’t question what I can’t understand. I have great peace with that. I love going to North Carolina and becoming a part of their lives; everything from folding laundry to praying together. If my sons ever wonder if they have done enough for me I can tell them Yes. I don’t have to worry.
I looked at the clock. We were two minutes ahead of schedule. Beautiful. We piled into the car and I set the GPS just in case I forgot less than 24 hours later how to get to the high school where Miles and Erin work. First stop was to pick up mom for the Big Day. As we drove off, Brooklynn assured me that she could show me the way if I got lost.
“Well, you ARE five now,” I said. “AND almost in Kindergarten. Almost.”
I could see her face in my rear view mirror and she looked out of the window, with a brave and expectant smile.
Brooklynn’s new school was a whirlwind of waxed floors and anxious parents and primary colors and lots of forms to fill out. I’m glad because it distracted Erin, and she did not cry, as far as I could see.
Olive and I had a kickin’ day, thanks to Target and a bag of markers and more snacks. Miles drove me to the airport at the end of the day. I felt a bit like Mary Poppins, with my big violet bag, and for my son I put on a brave smile, which I learned from watching my five year old granddaughter that very morning. We can face new things and just know that God is there, bigger than we can ever imagine, caring about French braids and a lonely three year old, a sad mom and my heavy heart flying north again. It’s like His arms can hold it all and pull you into Him, where there is peace, and a place to breathe and no clock. He can even hold time.
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
I called Brooklynn from the airport to check in on her first day. I could tell she was busy but I did find out this much; it was fun, she made friends and her favorite part was recess. Bye Ama! I hung up and boarded the plane, already planning my next trip back.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.