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And For My Next Number . . .

We had a dedication ceremony this past weekend for Madeleine at our church. Similar to a baptism, a dedication is more for the parents than the infant; we stood up in front of our congregation and vowed to raise Madeleine in a certain set of beliefs, to be good stewards of her life in our care, and to strive to always do what’s best for her. Our family and congregation then stood up and vowed to support us in our endeavor, to hold us accountable to our vows, and to be there for us when we need them.

dedication_disc_2_046.jpgAnd when I say our family stood up, I mean family. Every grandparent made it for the big day, as did a few uncles and aunts. This was the first time we’ve had our entire family around us at once since Maddie was born, and I was inundated with love and support.

I was concerned that so many virtual strangers hanging around and paying attention to her at once would overwhelm Madeleine. She does, after all, cry anxiously when strangers (or my church pastor Milind) try to pick her up, and we lead a relatively quiet day-to-day life with few constant visitors in her orbit. I feared the sheer number of people adoring her at once would be too much for her and she’d melt down.

My fears were unfounded, to say the least.

I’ll admit, Madeleine was a bit shy of her Texas grandparents at first. She’s been looking at their pictures in her cloth toy photo album but couldn’t quite figure out how she knew them. After a bit of Patty Cake and “Aren’t you precious!” time, though (and the occasional Cheerio bribe), she quickly came around.

We took a picnic lunch one afternoon and sat around eating sandwiches and talking lightly. Maddie sat in the middle of the blanket, crawling happily from lap to lap. I looked at the circle of love around her, the adults all there protecting her, helping her, loving her without making her the constant center of attention, and thought, as I have when I see my mom be such a part of her life, “This is right.” I loved having almost our whole family surrounding us, supporting us as parents in even such a small way as making sure she didn’t mistake the ants for finger foods.

dedication_disc_1_040.jpgAnd as for Maddie, she clearly warmed up to the idea of multiple adults very quickly. One evening she and Brian sat down at the piano to pound out a few songs. Maddie played a few bars and the room erupted in applause. Surprised, she looked around and saw several attentive, adoring faces. Emboldened, she played a few more bars. Once again applause broke out. Enchanted, she played another chord then started the applause for herself! She spent several more minutes playing a note or two then joining with the other adults in applauding her extraordinary talent, grinning as she looked from smiling face to smiling face.

She had clearly gotten over her stranger anxiety.

And lest we think it was a fluke, she encored her performance the next night, this time with dance. I told you earlier, she’s multi-talented! With her favorite dance music playing, Maddie got down, holding on to the coffee table while she bobbed and bounced in time to the music, happily swinging her “dance arm” in counterpoint. When applause broke out, she instantly remembered the night before and began applauding for herself again. There’s nothing quite like watching a ten-month-old getting funky and clapping in self-appreciation at the same time.

The house is pretty much empty again; most everyone’s back in their respective cities. The vows we took, though, will linger, and I feel the weight of them, the knowledge that Madeleine’s a gift and a responsibility to take seriously. I miss the family already and look forward to the next visit.

And frankly, I’m afraid plain old Mommy just won’t be enough of an audience for Madeleine any more.

She’s looking to play bigger venues.

And p.s., yes, she did cry when Milind took her during the service. We’ve got it on tape.


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