Joy's baby shower was ghetto. And I don't mean ghetto as in "In Living Color" funny ghetto. I mean I represented the height of poverty and it was one of the saddest things I've ever experienced.
When I arrived she was squatting in the back yard and one of her  siblings was putting on her eyelashes. Why is a woman/teen/child who is eight months pregnant squatting while someone who is clearly NOT pregnant is sitting down. Further, older family members were smoking cigarettes, weed and drinking 40s. Did I show up to a family bbq or a baby shower. I can't tell.
There were kids everywhere. You know how I feel about kids at baby showers. No.
One of her brothers and his wayward friends came in, ate all of the sandwiches and left. So by the time I got there, there was only crudite and some chicken on the grill. I was going to dinner later, so I didn't eat, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't looking forward to some deviled eggs. There weren't any.
There was no air conditioning in the house. Now, I have family members who are not well-to-do. But typically the baby shower is at a family member's house who has more. This led me to believe that this was the most anyone in their family has and again, that made me sad.
There was also one fan in the house that was strategically positioned onto Joy, except when it wasn't. Like, how do you take a fan off of a pregnant woman/teen/child because you're hot. I was so angry.
So, we played some games. Watched the kids dance (that's always super fun) and then she opened gifts. She wasn't registered anywhere. No one bought anything of substance outside of bottles. There were clothes, baby Jordans, about a million pacifiers and then I bought a stroller. No car seat. No pack-n-play. No high chair. No crib. No crib mat. No towels. Nothing I've ever seen at a baby shower. And it just goes to show how blessed I am to have been at all these showers where people had truckloads of things to take home.
Also, no one wrote down the gifts, so I handled that. I also sent her cards and stamps and told her the proper things to do after a shower, so she's doing it.
Then I go to a baby shower of someone who NEEDS truckloads of things and she didn't get what she needed.
I could let ALL of what I just told you go. So people don't have a lot of money to buy fancy gifts. They have family and they love each other and that's ok. Fine. So people haven't read the Emily Post book of etiquette and don't know what to do at weddings and showers. I can stop being stuck-up for 24 hours and let that go. No problem. So I didn't get any deviled eggs. No big. Fine.
But here's when things went south for me. Joy read all of her cards out loud. She's sort of glazed over this fact in the past because I could tell she's embarrassed about it, but she can't read cursive. That's right folks, they don't teach kids cursive in schools and so some kids can't read it. I wrote my card in cursive because I forgot, so I had to read it to her aloud in front of a room of people.
It was very inspirational. I know she's not a saint or a scholar, but I treat her like she's both because I expect her to act like she's both. She lives up to my expectations when she's with me. Somewhere in the card I said:
"To be a good example for your daughter, I know you'll get good grades, finish high school AND college and be there for her no matter what."
While I'm reading the card, two or three family members are adding their horribly negative commentary. "College?" "Really?" "Hmph. I don't know about all that."
It was at this moment that I realized that I was exactly where I was supposed to be that weekend. Because even though her "family" showed up for her shower (most of them bearing no gifts or contributions or even a positive attitude to the festivities), they're really not THERE for her. They didn't know I existed. They don't know anything about her or what's important to her or what she wants to do with her life. And this is not a judgement on her family. I didn't meet her at church camp, so I should have expected some of this, but I just didn't know what to expect. Sometimes you can't give what you don't have. If folks don't have ambition, they can't instill it in her. If folks don't have etiquette, they can't teach it to her. If folks don't have a positive outlook on life, they can't share it with her.
When I first arrived, I thought I'd made a mistake. Like maybe I was intruding on a personal, family affair. But, like I've always known, bloodlines don't dictate who your family is.
I'm happy I could be there for her and add some positivity at a special time in her life.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Pray for a successful [scholarship-receiving] college graduate. Our prayers and service are going to help break some barriers! Or at least I'll do everything in my power to make breaking barriers possible. Joy has to do the rest.