My five-year-old daughter has always been easy to put to bed. We started a routine with her from the time she was a baby, and have continued it to this day. She’s been a good sleeper since the tender age of six weeks old, easing us ever-so-gently into parenthood. God gave us mercy with that one because our youngest destroyed us beyond recognition all over again. But that’s another story.
Recently, she’s been going through a phase where she wants me or my husband to lay with her at night until she falls asleep. Any parent knows this can be sweet but frustrating. After a long day of working/parenting/whatevering, many of us long for that 8 p.m. bedtime where we can shut our children’s door and finally relax. We can flip on Netflix, finish projects we started, pour a glass of wine or shove a bowl of popcorn in our mouths while watching TV. I don’t do that myself, but I hear people do.
My daughter also began waking up and coming into our room in the middle of the night, wanting to crawl into bed with us. A tall girl with long and lanky arms and legs, she doesn’t fit so well between us like she did when she was a little three-year old ball of chub. Not to mention she’s a little furnace. I have to move to the couch quite often to give her space and so I can cool off.
In addition to this, my toddler has begun talking. So between my preschooler and toddler,
I hear, “MOMMY!!” no less than probably one hundred million times a day. “Mommy, I’m poopy!! Mommy, tie my shoes! Mommy, I can’t find my Uno game! Mommy, bowl of fishies! Mommy, where’s my book bag! Mommy, play cards with me!”
Combine this with my children also wanting cuddles throughout the night and I nearly can’t deal with the lack of personal space.
The other day, while they were clammering at me and throwing all kinds of requests at me at once, I took a deep breath and did my best to stay patient. I dealt with the little one first and got him a snack. I then dealt with my daughter, who needed help folding her laundry. I glanced at the clock, gauging how long I had until naptime.
It suddenly interested me to know exactly what my kids wanted when they called my name. Sure, they had specific requests. Very kid-friendly and simple, usually. Sometimes there were bigger problems, like a little blood, a scraped knee or hurt feelings. But stepping back, what exactly made them automatically say “mommy” sometimes before even they knew what they needed? They even call me before they’ve attempted fixing a problem themselves.
Because so far in their young life, I have been the fixer. Since before they can remember, it’s been me by their side, every step of the way.
I have made choices for them, I have paved the way for them. I know what’s going on in their lives every minute of the day and have a finger on the pulse of their moods. I anticipate rough days, rearrange schedules and provide a safe place for them to play and use their imaginations. I, with gritted teeth, dispense discipline when I must so that they learn wisdom, empathy and the difference between right and wrong. I make sure they have plenty to eat, and I toss in the occasional surprise treat after school or on Friday nights.
I have prayed for them since before they were born. Before they were even conceived I held them in my heart, almost not daring to hope God would grant them to me. I was breathless the first second they were placed on my chest. And I’ve been breathless many times since, either from the joy they bring me or the exasperation they drive me to.
All of these thoughts softened me. Suddenly their requests didn’t seem so insane. It made perfect sense.
And I could only think of God and how He feels about me and my constant requests. Granted, I am asking for bigger things than a bowl of goldfish crackers. I ask for guidance. I ask for mercy. I ask for wisdom. I ask for reconciled relationships. I ask for healing, both of the heart and of the body. I ask for big answers to big problems. I ask for sleep. (Lord knows I ask for sleep).
Sometimes I feel I must be pestering Him. Surely He has bigger things to deal with? Surely, he rolls his eyes at the middle-class stay at home mom who can occasionally splurge at Target and Starbucks and has far more than she could ever need. She can be wasteful and ungrateful, she gets herself in trouble, she says things she shouldn’t, and she is in general a bit of a hot mess.
But when I think about my kids, I feel assured that God doesn’t ever roll his eyes. (Ok…probably some. A little bit…). I feel confident that He welcomes my requests, finds pleasure in my seeking, and honestly desires to help me when my requests line up with His way of life…which is love. I feel positive that my fumbling in prayer endears me to Him more than it frustrates Him. I sense we make Him breathless in a way, that we don’t even know what we are capable of or how much He loves us and regards us as precious. We don’t know how much He wants to give us or in what wonderful ways He wants to use us if we would just let HIm.
Yes, it frustrates me that my daughter is a bit needy right now. Some days , I can’t believe she is still asking more of me at the end of the day. But she and I are both human. I go through phases too. Some leave me begging and grasping for God to be close, to let me feel Him all the time. Other phases find me confident in His love and not needing that constant reassurance. Regardless, He sees me through it all.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God
If we could only grasp the depth of what He did on the cross and how loved we are, I can only imagine how much joy we would find. I catch glimpses, yes. And those moments bring tears to my eyes and a humbleness to my heart that can’t be matched. But I have trouble dwelling in that joy. I want to keep striving, crossing off my checklist, measuring my progress. Black and white just seems easier sometimes. And maybe sometimes it’s my way of paying penance. God’s love seems too great a gift for measly little me.
But it’s not about arriving as a child of God. It’s about running to Him with it all. And yes, my kids come to me with it all and it can drive me a little bit insane. But honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I am pretty sure God feels that way too. The Bible tells me so.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 18:14
“Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit, on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:16-18×56
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19