Sunday, July 31, 2016

"my daughter's mother"

Little ones,

A few days ago history was made. For the first time in our country's 200 plus year history, a woman became the presidential nominee of a major party. Now, I try not to project my political leanings onto you. Maybe you'll grow up and be all "mom supported Hillary Clinton????" But no matter your eventual politics, I hope to raise you in such a way that you appreciate what this means for us. For Frances and myself as women. For my boys, as the brothers and friends and possible partners of women. For our whole nation, and really our world.

During her speech, Secretary Clinton stated: "When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit." Little ones, I hope that you realize that your dreams, hard work, and the benefits you've been given in this life can take you far--farther than you can currently imagine. As you move towards your dreams, though, I pray that you are aware of and grateful for the ones who came before you, the ones who made your path a little smoother and straighter. The ones who plowed down the hills a bit so that your trip would be less treacherous.

As she accepted the nomination, Clinton said: "Standing here as my mother's daughter, and my daughter's mother, I'm so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between." As the mother of a little girl, I am so thankful for trailblazers like Hillary Clinton. I am thankful that, in your short lives, you have seen a black man as president and now a woman as a major candidate (and hopefully soon filling the oval office). I am thankful that the people you see in power are already far more diverse than the images I saw in my childhood. I pray that these images permeate your being. I hope you know that we are all equal and capable and powerful. I hope you know that a person's value can never be limited by their gender or race or religion or sexual orientation or employment status or wealth or educational level. And I pray I am doing my best to impart these lessons.

I love you four so incredibly much. I cannot wait to see what limits you push in your life and where your dreams take you. 


Saturday, July 9, 2016

what's in a name: ellis andrew

For each of our children, we've chosen to use family names for both their first and middle names. We like the idea that, while each child's name is unique and his or her own, it also serves as a link to the past, a reminder of the many people who lived and loved and laid the path for our family today. And so, the story of Ellis Andrew.


Ellis is an old surname on the Coulter (Andrew's mom's) side. The most recent Ellis was Earl Ellis Coulter, Andrew's great grandfather. Earl Ellis lived in Chattanooga, was born in 1898, and died in 1946. We don't have lots of information about him. We know he was a firefighter, and was apparently a fire chief at the time of his death. We have heard that he may not have been the greatest husband, as it appears that his marriage was not quite intact when he died. We know that his mother was Minnie Ellis Coulter, and her father was Robertis Hamilton Ellis. While we don't know all that much about the Ellises, we know that they are an integral part of the line that led us to our Ellis, so perhaps they had adorable smiles and mischievous spirits.

Earl Ellis Coulter


Anyone who knows my Andrew knows why we chose this name. For two sons, Andrew fought against using his own name, saying that the passing down of a name was something that should be earned, something our children could do if they so chose. But on boy number three I finally won. And here's the thing--Andrew has most definitely already earned it.

Andrew Aaron Shafer is, quite simply, the most magnificent person I have ever met. He loves God, his family, his friends, and everyone he meets with a rare purity and fierceness. He gives of himself and his time so freely, never expecting a return on his investment. Serving others comes naturally to him.

Andrew is the most loving, loyal husband. He loves me in a way I could never deserve. He leads our family with grace, humility and compassion.

And as a dad, Andrew is unmatched. Andrew was made to be a dad. Our kids adore him. He is fun and playful and devoted and tender and all the things a parent should be. He is a completely equal partner in this parenting journey. He's changed at least as many diapers as me, and has me beaten by a mile in middle of the night visits to kids' rooms. Every morning, Andrew gets up and does breakfast with the little ones, and every night he wrangles them through the bath time process--it's their special daddy time, time they treasure, and time that I know fills them and molds them in an invaluable way.

Ellis already idolizes his dad, and I feel certain that he will be proud to share a name with him.