A Father’s Heart – Part 3 of 4

If you missed the first two parts of this blog series, you can catch up here.

IMG_5329I’ve talked about my family from time to time: my best friend and husband, Brad, my 6-year-old, Gabriella, my 4-year-old, Claire, my almost 3-year-old, Caleb, and one soon to arrive around Thanksgiving. To truly get the full picture of my family, however, it’s important that you meet my Grandsheep, Baa Baa.

I first met Baa Baa through my little sister, Samantha. Samantha loved collecting sheep as a child, and my parents bestowed the soft, cuddly, pristine white sheep to her sometime in middle school. While Samantha never “played” with her sheep at that age, it became a treasured knick knack, traveling with her all the way to her first apartment in Philadelphia when she moved here four years ago.

That is when the sheep unexpectedly was reborn.

1c79d6aaa17211e286b422000a9d0dd8_7I took the girls to visit Samantha one afternoon when Claire was about 11 months old. She toddled throughout the house, exploring everything she could touch until she came upon the sheep. When she didn’t let it go the rest of the visit, Samantha infamously told me, “Just let her take it home. I’ll get it from you later in the week when she forgets about it.”

She never forgot.

644e00cf8dd3ed5d0164d9ebdb4d0e48Rather, the sheep earned a name, Baa
Baa, and quickly became an intricate part of our family dynamic. Claire took Baa Baa
everywhere, and soon her soft, white wool was more worn, floppy, and gray. It became evident even at 18 months that one of Claire’s greatest gifts was nurturing, and Baa Baa was her little girl. As Margery Williams so beautifully captures in the Velveteen Rabbit, Baa Baa became real. Very real.

Claire would sob relentlessly if Baa Baa was being washed before bed, and the panicked exclamation, “Where’s Baa Baa?!?” became one of the most feared questions Brad or I could ask. Early on, I had searched Amazon, Ebay, and every inch of the Internet looking for a “back up Baa Baa,” but she was nowhere to be found. We had the only Baa Baa in the world, and she was irreplaceable. Strict guidelines were set up as to where she could be taken to take every effort to never lose her.

As Claire has matured, her love for Baa Baa has only grown. Baa Baa gets new outfits from Build A Bear. (They don’t really fit her, but it doesn’t matter.) She is the star of any pretend game she plays with her siblings. She is pushed in a stroller when we go on a walk, and I still watch Claire fall asleep by snuggling her close and rubbing her ear.

And Claire’s not the only one.  Most surprisingly, my love for the sheep has grown. This became abundantly evident to me earlier this summer during what I now refer to as, “The Great Baa Baa Incident.” (Cue foreboding music . . .)

Claire was headed to bed when she asked the dreaded question: “Mommy, where’s Baa Baa?” After a cursory look in the usual places, we could not find her and a back-up sheep was begrudgingly used. When she still didn’t show up the next day, a thorough cleaning of their room ensued. At the end of several hours, we had a pristine room, but still no Baa Baa. This continued through every room of the house over the next several days (Yes, it may or may not take me days to clean my house, and I use that word “clean” very loosely. Not my strongest gifting.).

At this point I’m ready to send out an Amber Alert for Baa Baa. My heart would break each night as Claire would look at me with her big, brown, tear-filled eyes saying how much she missed Baa Baa. We prayed multiple times a day that we would find Baa Baa, and anyone that Claire met, whether or not she knew them, got to hear the story that Baa Baa was missing.

Overall, though, Claire actually was taking the loss surprisingly better than expected. I, however, increasingly became a basket case. Call it pregnancy hormones. Call it maternal love. Call it pure irrationality, but after several days of Baa Baa being missing, I found I was unable to talk about Baa Baa without becoming teared up. I’m pretty sure Brad was convinced that his pregnant wife had at last completely lost her mind. And I’ll be the first to admit that I had.

I couldn’t explain it, but finding Baa Baa became my life’s quest. She would be the last thing I thought about at night and the first thing I thought about in the morning. I dreamed of presenting Baa Baa to Claire when she got married, and carefully preserving her for my grandkids someday. I lamented the loss of our family heirloom and could not even begin to imagine where else to look. I desperately prayed for my Father to take care of this and find my sheep.

home-depotShortly after one of these desperate prayers, as I was falling asleep, I had a vivid memory of seeing Claire and Baa Baa in a shopping cart at Home Depot several days before. (I was distracted and Claire managed to bring her in a store.)  I was certain that Baa Baa was there.  Could I get to Home Depot that very second to get to her? Apparently Home Depot has this crazy idea that they should not be open at 11:30 PM, but they would reopen promptly at 6 AM, and I would be there waiting to get my lamb.

I kept waking up every hour or so, wondering if it was time to get her yet (I’ve admittedly lost my mind, remember?), until I couldn’t get back to sleep and I came downstairs at 2:30 AM to read and write.

I began by lamenting to God about some of my “mosquito bite moments” over the last several weeks (you can catch up here if you missed this explanation), which culminated with the loss of Baa Baa. As I was resting in the quiet, Luke 15 was impressed on my heart. I immediately recognized it as my dad’s favorite chapter in the Bible, and began to dig in, thinking of talking about this incident with my dad, as I desperately poured out prayers to my other Dad.

[More to come soon . . .}