When the social isolation impacts of the Coronavirus began, I was talking to my kids’ shared godmother (Aunt Pattie) about how she was doing. She mentioned how much she missed being able to go to dinner with friends. Pattie had started a new job in a new town about 7 months before stay-at-home orders began. Sort of off hand I asked if she’d like to have dinner with us over FaceTime that week. Pattie said YES!
Our first dinner was March 25th and we haven’t missed one since. Typically we eat on Wednesdays. A couple of weeks ago my kids’ realized they were actually going somewhere on a Wednesday. Concerned they would miss the weekly dinner, they messaged Pattie to see if she could eat on Tuesday. Thankfully, she could. We all look forward to these Wednesday dinners. We laugh, share about our days, and we tell stories. I have known Pattie for over 20 years, 10 of them we worked together, but I have learned ALL KINDS OF THINGS about Pattie I never knew!
In our family, we are familiar with using technology to connect. We’ve never lived close to grandparents, aunts and uncles, or our chosen family of godparents. Truth be told, all of our kids’ godparents are our good friends. Except Pattie, I met them all in high school through Episcopal Youth Ministry events. Scrolling through my recent texts I see most of their names, and know we have checked in recently. My husband’s thread with our daughter’s godfather, also an Episcopal priest, is pretty regular.
During this pandemic we have been in touch with all of them more often. Perhaps because we are all less busy. In addition to weekly dinners with Aunt Pattie, we sent girl scout cookies to Ollie’s godfather in Alabama and shared the new found fun of nail polish wraps, trampolines, and backyard pools over FaceTime with our Mississippi godfamily. All of this made me think more about how and why we stay connected to the people we choose as godparents. At a child’s baptism in the Episcopal Church, a godparent must answer yes to this question,
“Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life?”
When we were deciding whom to choose for these roles, my husband and I knew it couldn’t just be anyone. The people we chose had to actively live a faithful life. These four people (our son has 2 godparents and our daughter 3, one of whom they share), are all people who through the example of their own lives show our children what it means to be a follower of Christ. And that isn’t just the way they treat our children. It is about how they engage the world around them and the choices they make.
We also wanted our kids to have relationships with adults they know and trust who are not us. My husband and I trust these people too. Their numbers are in my kids’ iPads. I am pretty sure they’ve all won the FaceTime ceiling fan award from our daughter. She’s known to put the iPad down to go retrieve something, leaving the camera on the fan. Our son goes to summer camp where his godfather was once Head Counselor and Assistant Director. Though he didn’t get to go this summer, it has always been wonderful to hear them swapping stories about camp after our son comes home. Uncle Christopher also sends really good camp care packages! The Robertsons, our Mississippi godfamily, have North Carolina roots. When they travel back this way, we make it possible to get in at least a day’s visit.
Recently, I was chatting with a good friend about writing this post. She is also a stellar godparent! She shared something that hadn’t dawned on me, “I always think about it as my responsibility to keep connected but haven’t thought much about the parental responsibility.” To be honest, I believe it’s a two way street. Lasting relationships cannot be one-sided, and like any relationship, things ebb and flow.
In my heart, I know how transformative it has been for my kids to have people, active in their lives, who’ve known them since they were born. Someone who greets my emerging tween with the same warmth and love as they did holding him the day he was baptised. These four adults have prayed for my kids through test anxiety and trips to get stitches. They have cheered for their achievements and laughed at their corny jokes. Together they share a common faith and foundation. We, like so many, have learned to do things differently during this pandemic. Thankfully the roots of these relationships were firmly planted and I have loved watching them grow stronger in new ways.