We’ve had a rough few days. which is why you haven’t heard from me. The rain doesn’t make it any easier, to be honest. Generally, I love the rain. The soft sound. The excuse to stay inside and make soup. Watch a movie. But it has been raining, practically non-stop for the last two weeks. It only seems to have perpetuated the darkness hanging over our house.
My Ellie grows in leaps and bounds every day. It seems, every morning she has learned a new word. A new gesture. A new way to tell us that she hates what we’re feeding her. She claps for herself if she does something she’s proud of. She sings as she plays. She gives all of her stuffed animals hugs, waits for her Papa by the backdoor when it’s time for him to come home and has just started asking for “M-M”, which happens to be my sister, Emily. She’s expanded her culinary prowess by allowing spinach, peanut butter and watermelon to cross paths with her mouth every now and again. Popsicles, however, are never something that have to be forced. The only thing that remains to evolve is her sleeping patterns.
For the past few days, she has kept the two of us so awake we’ve wept with exhaustion. Cried out to God in frustration. The thing is, our Ellie girl is an independent one. She loves to do things herself- dress herself, feed herself, and comfort herself. It’s not self-soothing that she needs practice in. But when she is so uncomfortable because of the teeth breaking through her gums, or her tummy hurts or she’s so overtired she just can’t get herself back to sleep, she will not be comforted. She doesn’t want you to caress the back of her head. She doesn’t want to be snuggled. She wants to go to sleep and she wants you to help- with as minimal amount of contact as possible. While not leaving her in the crib. This is hard to do. Which is why it’s been 15 months and we have only slept through the night the exact amount of days as months she’s been alive- 15.
Last night I went to church and Rich stayed home with Ellie. I prayed and worshipped with our friends and felt a renewed sense of strength. I wondered why my girl fights being comforted. What baby doesn’t want to be comforted?
And then, I recognized in my own heart what was playing out in her little life. I hate admitting to anyone that it has been hard for me to get out of bed the last few weeks. I hate saying that I feel as if just making a phone call and returning a few emails seem entirely overwhelming and too much to handle so I’ve neglected a lot of responsibilities and ignored others all together. I hate feeling like facing another day, picking up the same toys, wiping up the same peanut butter off of the couch and trying to soothe an unsoothable child is enough to make me cry over my coffee. I don’t want to be comforted. I just want it to go away, pick myself up and move on. I want it to be fixed. And I want to be the one to fix it.
It’s quite an amazing God we have that he doesn’t wag his fingers in our faces all the time. It’s unfathomable how He resists the urge to shake my shoulders and shout, ” If you would just let me help you, all of this could be avoided. Again and again and again and again….” If I could just admit to Him that I need His help. That being a stay at home Mom is so much harder, and lonelier than I ever thought it would be and I’m afraid people will recognize my inability to keep it together as failure. If I could be brave enough to accept His comfort when He offers it instead of filling the time with chores, guilt, shame, and self deprecation to avoid admitting my weakness.
We’re so silly. Some people wonder why there are so many of the same passages throughout the Bible….it’s for dumb people like me who forget it as soon as I read it, that I need them strewn throughout the whole damn thing so that I can read it over.
For the thousandth time, surrounded by people who love me, I waved my independent white flag. I can’t do it alone. Not anymore. Not ever.
As if to cement in my heart how connected our children are to us- that that is how it was designed- that every idea we cling to as truth gets imbedded in their little brains, every belief we have about God’s supremacy lodges itself in their blood,every single thing I do, how I view myself, how I care for her and others gets absorbed, the good and the bad, my girl woke at 5 a.m. fussier than ever. So, I took her downstairs and let her be. Fed her when she wanted to eat, played when she wanted to play. She was just not herself. So, reluctantly, I took her with me to sit on the couch. And she let me hold her. And stroke her head. And for the first time in her little life, I watched in amazement as she simply laid her head on my chest, closed her eyes and fell fast asleep. No rocking. No singing. No pleading. No pacing. No reading. No cajoling. Just sweet rest in the comfort of knowing her Mama loves her more than the moon and that I will be there when she wakes.
I do not think our sleep problems are over. I don’t think it will be this simple from now on. But I am soberly reminded that I no longer have the luxury to live in the darkness of false security in false independence. I have a little human who models, absorbs and emulates everything I do.
Which means, if I want her to be comforted, I must allow it for myself as well.
What a weird and wonderful and painful and beautiful thing this parenting is.