There is no greater joy on this earth for me than to be a mother. This is simply the thing on this earth I know I was created to do. It’s not something I often admit aloud, because I would hate to trigger any insecurity in someone who does not share my joy, but I truly, deeply love it.
It’s not something that’s always easy, though. Last night was one of those hard nights. With school, we have to get into bed to read and head to sleep by 7:30 pm at the latest. It’s the reality of our life right now — and it’s a temporary routine in the scheme of things. On nights we get to bed any later, there’s a price to pay. Last night, we didn’t head to bed until 8:15.
This meant it was a long, sleep-interrupted night followed by a very hard and tired wake up this morning for my daughter. I didn’t fare much better. My son woke up “refreshed” at 4:55 am and I stirred hot chocolate mix into his milk while waiting for my coffee to brew. I could not figure out why the stupid powder would not dissolve, and of course I had added too much milk to his cup, so I had to take a big swig of the disgusting mushy chocolate sludge so I could shake up the milk. It wasn’t until after I handed him his cup and went to put up the canister that I realized it said “Nestle hot chocolate mix.”
I like to start Mondays off right, y’all.
I try to be tender to my daughter when she wakes in the morning. I know she’s not a morning person, I know that things are huge and BIG FEELINGS when she’s tired. I know her hair is extra tender when she’s tired. I know that being angry and yelling at her only results in a frustrated me, and a tearful child. While I fail almost as often as I succeed in the mornings, I try to send her off making sure she knows that I believe in her, that she is loved, and that she’s safe with me. She’s safe to be angry, she’s safe to feel tired, she’s safe to express herself to me because I will not change how I love her. Now, I won’t let her get away with certain behaviors, but if there’s any place she can have a safe place to try, it’s here.
Bluebelle got off to school on time, and she was finally sweet and ready to learn by 7:30. You’re welcome, teachers.
I went to make myself a second cup of coffee a few moments ago to shake off the fog of sleep deprivation, and I thought about how tender God is with us. I can be tender to my children because I have experienced tenderness beyond anything I actually deserve.
I’ve been dissecting Psalm 23 lately, and looking at it through fresh eyes, in part for a thing I’m leading soon, but also because it’s where I have felt like I was supposed to be.
“He makes me to lie down in green valleys, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He leads me through paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake.”
You know what I never noticed before? The word “makes.” In my world, I always just kind of assumed that I have always been a willing participant. The idea of laying down in a green valley, and leading me beside a nice, calm, still water, and that idea of restoration … It sounds like a nap. A glorious nap. Who wouldn’t love a nap?
My children, that’s who.
Am I no different than my child? Do I not think that I can do this on my own? That I’m “not that tired” and “I don’t have time to rest?” I wrangle my children into early bedtimes and naps because I know that they need to recharge even if they can’t see it. My tenderness towards them doesn’t always look tender to them. It looks like I’m squashing their fun. It looks like the end of their little world.
Sometimes God’s tenderness doesn’t feel all that tender to me either. It feels like disappointment. It feels like disaster. It feels like closed doors, wounded feelings, and being all alone.
It’s only after I get my rest and restoration that I can see why things were done the way they were. Before that, I’m in that exhausted tantrum state where logic is anything but logical. After my rest I can say, “Lord, I see why you did what you did. Thank you.”
Growing up, my dad was exceptionally good about coming to my room after any conflict. Dad would give me about 5-15 minutes and then come in to talk to me and resolve things in a calm manner. I feel that’s how God is with us — he’s patient and able to withstand our wailings and anger, but he doesn’t want us to remain there.
Thank you, God, for being tender with us and for always being our safe place. Thank you for being merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)
Tonight we will go to bed earlier than last night, and I will remind my children that the rest is for their own good. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep of my own. But if not it will be okay, because there are always opportunities to rest and find refreshment.
There is also coffee.