We brought Jack home at the liveliest time of day, right as the sun was falling, when the kids were all out at the playground. Exhausted from sleepless nights at the hospital, feeling the drop of adrenaline that accompanied the relief of coming home, we wanted to sneak our baby inside and sleep.
They spotted us. Maria, her brothers, Chicho, Leslie, and ten or twelve other kids ran to our car as we parked. Ruthie pulled the cover over the car seat. By the time we opened our doors to make the short walk to our apartment, they were clamoring to see him.
"Is that your baby?" "Can we see him?" "Can we hold him?"
"No. We need to get him inside so he can rest," I said, releasing the lock on his car seat and lifting it out. We rushed to our apartment door and collapsed inside. At the door, the kids shouted and knocked for a few minutes before returning to their soccer game. I waited until the hallway was clear, then crept back to the car to bring our bags in.
We closed the afterschool program for a week while we adjusted to Jack's arrival and the odd sleeping hours it entailed. During the same week we took off, we avoided discussing crises that kids we work with are facing. We didn't feel like we had the strength to face them.
When we decided to move into the neighborhood to share life with these kids, we knew that it would mean choosing to open our doors. But every good idea has its limits and balancing ideas. Certain doors need to stay closed at certain times if we're going to care well for the love out of which we work.
I didn't imagine myself becoming more private after moving in to this neighborhood, but during this chapter of my life, especially with Jack here, I've been keeping stricter boundaries around time slotted for rest and reflection. The result has been a greater relational and mental life to share with my neighbors.
On Tuesday, after a week of rest and adjustment, we re-opened the after-school program. The rest was good. Jack was healthy, and we were eager to invite these kids to meet our son. After the elementary-aged students finished their homework, we brought Jack out for brief introduction. Here's how it went:
Please keep us in your prayers as we seek to balance our love for our neighbors, our love for God, and our love for our growing little family. If we keep these three loves in wise balance, they support, feed, and enrich each other.