Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Touched by God

I had planned all along to have Michelle baptized for many reasons: I was raised in a Catholic family. I wanted to get my Mom off my case ("WHEN are you getting her baptized?! It's going to be too late and the dress I got her won't fit much longer!" I had to listen to just about every time I talked to her for the past several months. I finally phoned the church and made the arrangements mostly to get Mom off my back! Though ideally a child would be baptized a few weeks after birth, technically you can still have a baptism even when they're 6 years old. So I could have REALLY procrastinated if I wanted to.) I wanted Michelle to be touched by God and to have Jesus in her life (I feel like He has been there for us from the beginning watching over us). And finally there's a slight possibility that her father actually was Satan (or at the very least the Prince of Darkness. He wasn't sure who his father was. I have my suspicions) and I wanted to be sure to claim her for the good side!

Though it is supposed to be a sacred day, it was also a rather stressful one. I had no idea how Michelle was going to be in church. She can be very moody and very vocal. I had visions of her screaming like a demon throughout the ceremony. You just never know with her. When babies act up in church parents usually take them out until they calm down (they even have a section at the back in most churches called a "crying room" so your baby doesn't disrupt the mass for everyone else), but if your baby is the centre of attention and it's a ceremony especially for her then there's really no escape if she acts up. I also knew that I would be the only single Mom there (there was a baptism prep class ahead of time and as expected they were all couples except for me.) There were three other babies being baptised on the same day. Each child had their own section of the church with parents in the front row, godparents in the row behind (my sister May and brother Chris) and other family behind that. I would be the only one in the front row by myself with Michelle, so I'd feel all the more conspicuous if she was wailing and I wouldn't even have my Mom beside me to help or hand her off to. I was hoping for the best.

A lot of the day's stress actually came from footwear, surprisingly. At the last minute I realized that all of the shoes I normally wear are worn, holey (not holy!) tattered or unsightly. I was wearing a black dress I got for my birthday and needed to wear somewhat dressy shoes with it. The problem was that all my reasonably dressy flats were a wreck. The only shoes I had that looked presentable (because they had barely been worn) were high heels. It has been several years since I've worn heels. I got out of the habit of wearing them during the four years that I dated someone who was just barely my height and would have been shorter if I wasn't in flats. After getting used to wearing comfortable shoes, I never went back. Comfort trumped style. I decided that heels, though sexy, weren't worth the torture. When I was pregnant especially I wouldn't have worn heels (my feet were so bloated I could barely wear shoes at all). Now with a baby I usually wouldn't dream of wearing heels but I knew for this occasion I'd have to walk up with Michelle and even step up on a podium so if anyone glanced at my feet I thought I'd better wear something presentable. I wasn't sure how I was going to balance on stilts while carrying a 20 lb baby. Walking up cement steps and leaning over a stone fountain. It was also a warm day and I was sweating buckets. I hoped I wouldn't trip, fall and drop Michelle.

Michelle's shoes were another source of stress. I had gotten these adorable little white satin slipper/shoes to go with her dress. The dress was several layers of satin, lace, sequins and beads so I figured the less time Michelle spent in it the better. The outfit was at my Mom's so I didn't dress her until just before we were going to head out. Once I had her all dressed on the couch she was standing up and trying to play. All of a sudden it was time to leave and I realized one of her shoes was missing. She hadn't left the couch. Where could it have gone? It made no sense. "She's lost her slipper!" I yelled thinking "What is she, Cinderella?" I didn't see how her slipper could just vanish. I didn't want to bring her barefoot to the church. My Mom said to bring her with one shoe on and then at least people would know she had shoes and lost one. I thought that logic was absurd. I kept frantically checking around the couch, on the floor. It was driving me crazy. I looked at the clock. It was time for us to be there. My Mom then came into the room and said to check between the cushions. Sure enough there it was. Michelle's foot must have slipped between the cushions for a second and the couch swallowed her shoe. Now I had to race to get her into the carseat and go.

Michelle was actually quite well behaved, considering. Everyone was telling me how good she was afterward. Of course they probably couldn't tell what I was going through in the front row alone with her. Michelle doesn't like to be still. Now that she can stand and walk a few steps on her own, she wants to get down. She was wiggling and wriggling to get out of my arms. I was sweating and she was so slippery in her satin layers that I had a hard time holding on to her. I almost thought I was going to drop her at one point. Sometimes she'd stiffen herself out and kick a little. She almost started to fuss but I was able to placate her with her soother, a stuffed white bear and her sippy cup of water. My brother Chris, her godfather made faces to entertain her as well.
It all fell apart at the font though. All the other babies (some of them almost newborn, others older like Michelle) were silent when it was their turn to have water poured over their heads. Michelle was not impressed and she wasn't shy about expressing her displeasure. She has been making strange with people as it is so when a strange man in a dress poured a shell full of water over her head three times -- "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" -- naturally she screamed. Luckily the priest was very down to earth and had a sense of humour about it. And happily she stopped crying after I dried off her head.

They didn't allow photography during the ceremony but you could snap to your heart's content after it was all over. We wound up being the last family to leave because we were taking so many pictures. It was hard for me because I'm used to being the one behind the camera. My brother Mike took some pictures with my camera for me. May took several with hers. My niece Shannon got some as well. There was sunlight coming from the ceiling and I asked my sister if she'd get a picture of Michelle and I. Those wound up being my favourites. Seeing Michelle bathed in light seemed appropriate for the occasion. When he saw her in her white dress my Dad said Michelle looked like an angel.

After the ceremony we headed back to my Mom and Dad's place for a celebration. My Mom seemed quite happy and relieved that Michelle had been baptized. My Mom was worried initially that the church might give me a hard time because of my situation. I told her the church isn't going to turn someone away. That wouldn't be very Christian would it? In this day and age not everyone has a typical traditional family with two parents. Besides, I know that God was there for us when Mike left and I didn't know how I was going to make ends meet. Miracles started to happen and we were OK. God is the man in our lives. I trust Him to look after us even though I don't always know how at the time.

It was such a beautiful day so we headed outside. Thankfully Michelle had a bit of a nap and was in pretty good spirits for the afternoon. She enjoyed playing on a blanket with the girls. Her cousins fussed over her like she was a little living doll. I changed her so that her baptismal gown wouldn't be ruined. The blanket acted like a fence for her since Michelle is afraid of going on the grass. (She's not used to it. So far every time I try to put her on the grass she gets creeped out by the texture.) Someone commented that the boys and girls were at opposite ends of the yard. The men were in the far corner trying to chop wood (bizarrely a large branch the size of a small tree had blown into my parents' yard one night during a quasi-tornado and my brother was going to cut it down to use as wood for his firepit) and the girls were all in dresses and hanging out on the blanket.

Michelle seemed happy there so we decided to open the gifts there as well. The girls helped. Though Michelle is too young to appreciate it, I was grateful for the lovely gifts she got from the family. My sister May is not only the best sister and friend I could hope to have, she's the best, most kind and generous Auntie and godmother Michelle could ask for too.

Though it had been a lovely day overall I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of it. I have been feeling more sentimental lately and tearing up easily. (I think it's partly hormonal, partly sleep deprivation and partly that I'm just a sentimental fool in general.) Michelle fell asleep on the drive home and I took the time to reflect on the day. I thought about Michelle in her white dress and I realized that a girl wears a white dress for each sacrament -- Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation and eventually Marriage. I kind of skipped that last one of course. Though I wouldn't rule it out 100% (just 99.9%!) I really don't expect wedding bells in my near future. Even without a ceremony however I have vowed to love, honour and cherish someone for the rest of my days -- my little Michelle is my partner for life. I used to be afraid of commitment but now I give my heart and my life to her completely. I am so grateful for my little angel.


May gave me a CD of baptism pictures from her camera and I wanted to add a few of my favourites here...

I love this one of Michelle and the priest looking at each other! I just wish I'd remembered to take out her soother. I hate when she has a soother in her mouth for photos.

I like this one with my Mom. She looks so happy and proud.

I love Michelle's sweet expression here. I think this is my favourite photo of all.

Thank you again Godmother and Auntie May for all that you do!


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