Two weeks ago my husband left for his midlife crisis (notice the preposition) to Alaska hoping to decorate our wall with a massive moose. I found a great place in the garage where said coat hanger will fit nicely. Brushing my teeth one morning, I caught myself smiling at the thought of him huddled on a boat on a river in the Alaskan bush with three other men enduring cold, rain, and bugs. He has talked about a trip like this since we began actually being honest with each other about what we were really thinking. Let’s see, that must have been about our fifth year of marriage in the middle of the third pregnancy.
I SHOULD have taken the two weeks to settle in with my kids, dive into school, take them on special autumn related outings. Not really my style. Hence, I found myself sitting in a dark hotel room half way between my transplanted home and my Minnesota homeland after an extended cry fest by #4 who refused to sleep the entire drive. The minivan transformed into a McDonald’s playland with stinky kid feet, discarded clothing hanging from the seats, food crushed into the carpet, and whining, lots of whining. I handed out suckers like the bank teller. This is the first trip I allowed the kids to watch movies anticipating the media would numb them to the miles. Not so for #3 and #4, the very two children I was hoping to lose to the mindless abyss.
It is as if my husband left and Substitute Mom took over with soup from a can, fruit snacks, and movies galore.
The morning after our return home, I am sitting here processing the trip. As with most road trips that pull me out of my ordinary day, my mind has newfound space to contemplate. Memories come back to me as I talk of college days with friends I have not seen in ten years. New laughs spring forth while sweet high school classmates and I converse about the complexities of raising little humans.
And, as with most events in life, there is a nugget, always a nugget. This nugget was found on my dad’s dairy farm, Farm Grandpa’s farm. Following our goodbyes, I was walking back across the farmyard to my van of life and disaster when my dad called me back to him. Once standing before him he asked me if I would allow my children to call my step mom Farm Grandma, the name I realized even as he spoke, I had been denying my children to call her. It struck a cord deep within my soul. I told my dad if it was important to her I would allow them to call her by such a tender title, but my being within rebelled. What a perfect time to have such a conundrum thrown upon me when I have 13 hours of driving to deliberate.
I began to search my heart, for the why. Why was this such a big deal to me? What is so important about a name? People take great care to name their children. A dear college friend named her princesses Alaithia (Greek for Truth) and Karis (Greek for Grace) with the meanings of their names resonating at their family’s core. We should have taken such care when naming our kids, for we have a “grassy null” as the caboose. Poor kid. When a person refers to me as simply Clara’s mom or Chris’ wife, the title inexplicably fills my chest to be recognized by such a name.
Driving down the country highway lined by vibrant red, orange and yellow changing trees it hit me. I have withheld this title from her because of our past together. My children do not know the pain that was exchanged between the two of us. As I mulled over this thought, the Holy Spirit sweetly cut in with:
“They shouldn’t, if full forgiveness was granted.”
That truth sat in my gut for hours. Full and free forgiveness. Years of words and actions washed away under the blood of my Jesus who has endured infinitely more from me. My children should not have a marred opinion of a woman whom Jesus loves so very much. A woman who, although we struggled in relationship, has honored my dad with her presence and faithfulness through gut wrenching difficulty at times. Why should I deny this woman the honor of the name Farm Grandma, when my Father God calls me, a wretch, Daughter?
I shouldn’t. I won’t.
She and I are both loved fully, wholly by a Father who bestows on us our names and titles in the first place. He alone is the only One who can cause us to live up to any position granted us by His grace. None of us deserve honor, titles, names, LOVE. Yet, He has given to us freely. Therefore, ought not I to do the same?
Dearest Grandma on the farm, you will now only be known by my children as Farm Grandma, because Jesus has made you worthy of the title. We, I, love you.