We got an invitation to go to a christening.  I love babies. I love lunch and I love cake. Off went the email saying we were going. I asked what kind of gift card the baby preferred. The baby suggested a local wine shop. I knew this christening would be fun.

However, poor planning on my part meant I allowed my son to go to a friend's house for a sleepover the night before.  Too late to say no, I warned him the 8:00 a.m. pickup for church at 10 was going to come awfully early.  He said he'd be ready. He wasn't.  So, we left him behind. A chaotic start. Feeling angry and tired of teen shenanigans, we drove to the church in the center of Hartford.

We'd been there a few times before, once for the wedding of a friend and once for the wedding of the couple now about to christen their baby.  We found seating and settled in. The girls looked at me with pleading eyes, "How long will this last?"  Two hours was my answer. I had no idea. I just make stuff up.

The girls settled in.  I looked around.  Half-listening, I noticed the parishioners;  the older couples, the moms holding babies, the man sitting by himself holding his head in his hands, and the little boys leaning into their dads. I saw the choir and the organist who even with his back to us worked up an enthusiasm for playing the organ that Billy Joel himself would have admired. And I thought, "This is not a bad way to spend an hour or two a week."

Kids were pried away from their devices. Families were forced to get dressed and out of the house. To do what? If nothing else, to spend one quiet hour a week together. One hour where babies slept on their moms and their moms had nowhere else to go, no work emails to return, no multitasking. One hour where someone told stories many centuries old, then deciphered them for you. One hour to whisper. One hour of sitting together on the same pew. One hour.

The service ended and we left to drive to the luncheon at the family's home.  My family's home. Filled with cousins, aunts, and uncles. New babies and their bigger cousins.

My daughter worried about homework said, "How long will we stay?" In my head,  I was imagining myself as a gas tank with only 1/8th of a tank of gas in it.  And I thought until I'm feeling peaceful and connected (and I've had cake). "Until I'm full," was my answer.

I chatted and laughed.  Got tips for visiting D.C., invitations to hike, a baby to hold. I complained about my oldest to an aunt, "Don't worry.  He will turn 30 eventually."  She raised three teens on her own. She's been through it all; teen drivers, teens gone AWOL, exploding microwaves, it's hard to rile her up anymore. She's right.  Thirty will arrive eventually.

I listened to my daughter ask my cousin's daughter, "How are we related again?"  My cousin said, "It's complicated." But I disagreed. It wasn't complicated. They just were- on a DNA cellular level.  A few hours passed in a blink.

I saw my cousin's wife sit on the stairs and take a breath- a moment in what had been a long weekend full of family and friends.  I remember that level of exhaustion as a new mom. I don't miss it. But I hope in the frenzy of throwing a beautiful party, she looked around and admired what she'd done.

My daughter came around again, "Are you full yet?" Yes, I was full.  We could go home.


  1. Keep it up! You have a gift for telling stories that resonate with many! xoxo

  2. I love that you're back, Jen! So enjoy your writing. ANd can so relate. My oldest son (now almost 20 and just a little bit further on the way to 30 than yours) had that habit too of asking, whenever I did manage to drag him to a family function, how long it would take. And he'd keep asking, the more we were into it, he'd ask as often as every 2 minutes, physically tugging at my sleeve thinking the other people wouldn't notice, or not caring that it looked rude, he so desperately wanted to get out of there. And I'd also always answer: When I'm ready. Gosh I hated that phase. Then he started driving and we started going to these things in separate cars for the teenagers to make their early exit...


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