When I was pregnant, one of my biggest projects was getting Heidi’s room ready. I had lots of ideas in my head for the nursery. (This was pre-Pinterest, which is probably good because then it would have just been ridiculous). I wanted her room to be peaceful, I wanted it to be practical, and I wanted it to perfectly stimulate Heidi’s learning while also calming her into a deep sleep for naps and bedtime. I think I even looked up which paint colors were healthiest for a baby (like that’s even a thing).
Now I read back over that paragraph and I think….HAHAHAHAHA! *slapsknee*
Even at the tender age of 17 months, Heidi lovingly and consistently keeps her room “trashed.” She always peels off her socks and leaves them wherever they land. She pulls all the blankets out of her crib. She throws her stuffed bunny as far as she can from her crib, and she throws all her pacifiers down on the floor behind her crib. She takes all her toys out, one by one, and does not put them back when she’s done (we’re working on that). She opens the closet and digs around in her hamper. And the books…oh, the books…are absolutely everywhere. You could play a great game of “stay out of the lava!!” with those books. It’d be really easy to win. (Did anyone else ever play that game? Where the carpet was lava and the couch pillows were safe spots? No?). Heidi’s room is already resembling that of a teenager. She’s done her share of screaming, pooping, crying and running around naked in that room (HAHA. I hope she’s not like that as a teenager in her room. I’d have to re-examine my parenting methods, I think).
Besides the physical state of her room, it has also been the place of many strong emotions. Those four walls have seen Heidi and me at our worst. We’ve had days where we’ve both just sat on the floor, staring at each other, crying. I’ve fumbled with trying to nurse her in there, especially if we had guests at the house, while still learning how to share my personal bubble of space with a baby every hour of the day. I’ve shut her in there while she cried, while I stood just outside the door in frustration, beating my head against the door frame. (Sadly, this really did happen…several times). We’ve had sleepless nights of reading countless books, lots of crying and very, VERY early mornings in that room (and very ,VERY late nights). All in all, we’ve had lots of growing pains in there.
However, one thing I did not anticipate about Heidi’s room was that it would become a holy place for me. Before Heidi, if I wanted to spend time with God, I’d simply pull out my bible and journal, find a comfy place, and take as much time as I wanted to write out my prayers. Time like that is not quite as easy to come by with a baby (though it IS possible!). But it didn’t take me long to find the holy moments as a mommy. When Heidi was tiny, I would cuddle her close before bed, our faces close together (on those precious few nights she wasn’t screaming from 7pm to 10pm). I couldn’t stop kissing her. A CD of worship lullabies would play, and I would just cry and find myself praying. I’d pray from the deepest part of me. I’d thank God with every lovely word I could muster for this amazing gift. I begged Him to keep her safe forever. I asked for wisdom to raise her, energy to make it through the days, and the self-control not to throw her out the window. I would sing the worship songs with tears streaming down my cheeks, the room dim, the night light glowing in the corner. And I’d praise God straight from the bottom of my heart. I was so humbled by the gift of her that my gratitude felt endless.
It was a natural reaction. It didn’t spring from who I am or who I felt I should be. I didn’t feel obligated to list what I was thankful for. I didn’t go through the motions of prayer or worship. But it came from a place of seeing God in something (someONE) that ripped my world apart. It simply happened. Out of the loudness and the mess and the chaos of bringing new life into the world, I found pockets of stillness and peace.
I’ve also cried out to God in that room. When I reached the end of myself…when I had no more energy, strength, or self-control left…I begged in earnest for Him to help me with this child because, so help me, I was close to selling her to the zoo. Those prayers were also some of the most genuine and honest I had prayed in a long time.
I have always loved God, but I love Him so much for this gift. Not just for the gift of Heidi, but for the gift of a new way of prayer. I may not be singing in my church choir or writing pages and pages in my journal or doing mission trips or using the perfect words or even using any words at all. But I’ve never experienced prayer as pure as the prayer that comes from my mommy’s heart.
Last night was a holy night. I read to Heidi, gave her a sip of milk, laid her down, kissed her, put on her music, and left the room. Many times, she falls asleep without a peep. But every so often, she’ll begin to cry very shortly after I shut the door. I am a softie and hardly ever just let her cry. Sometimes she’s poopy, sometimes her leg is stuck in the crib, sometimes (ok, just one time) she puked all over herself. But this time, I think I know exactly what she wants. I tip toe back in to see her standing up, blanket in hand, reaching for me. I bend down and whisper in her ear, “Do you want to cuddle with mommy?” She signs “please!!” vigorously just before I pick her up. She curls into me tightly, her arms around my neck and head firmly against my chest. And we rock. It’s never too long (unless I’m feeling particularly sentimental). And I soak it in. That little hand clasping mine. The gentle sound of her pacifier. The smell of her hair and its silkiness between my fingers. Even the simple things, like the drip of the humidifier or the cars going past on the street outside, make the moment this peaceful sliver of time I know one day I will long for. We only cuddle for about five minutes when she’s ready to go back in her crib. But I memorize the moment the best I can, and I tuck it down inside my heart for forever.
When I’m in that room at 2am, and my child refuses to sleep or she is sick or getting teeth, and I’m holding her in the rocking chair completely exhausted and begging God to let her sleep, I try to remember that one day, this is the room I will miss. These are the nights and the problems I might give anything to have again.
That room is where I stand on holy ground. Crusted milk, poopy diapers, and toys everywhere…but I know God is there.
A friend of mine once put it so very perfectly:
“It won’t be the hot chocolate that’s growing cold that I’ll miss, or the thing I wanted to read, or that show I just wanted to finish, or the shower for crying out loud I needed. It will be her little fleecy pink and snowman-jammied body, her flushed cheeks and the chubby arm thrown over her face as she falls asleep while drinking her milk. Some day, I will give anything and everything to just once, hold her and put her to bed again.”“Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4