Wednesday, March 21, 2012

a nap and a prayer

When I first became a mother, I did a lot of praying.

I prayed for my baby's health, of course.  I prayed that he would be protected from that terrifying thing referred to as SIDS.  I prayed that I would know what to do, how to guide him, the ways to best protect him from the horrors of the world.

And I did a lot of praying that involved sleep.  I prayed for good nighttime sleep - for myself and for my little boy.  But possibly the thing I prayed most urgently about was naps.

"Lord," I'd say when he was obviously tired and fussy, but fighting sleep, "Could you please help him to nod off soon?  He needs it so badly, and I need it too, Lord.  It could only be good for both of us."  And then when he was asleep, I'd pray that he would sleep longer than the mere 45 minutes he was fond of.  "Please, Lord, please.  Could you help him to have a longer nap this time?  Please, please?"

I'm ashamed  to admit that when I didn't see the results I'd hoped for from these prayers, I sometimes felt bitter.  I wondered, what would it have hurt anything if the baby had napped for 90 minutes instead of 45?  Why couldn't he...and I...have had a little more time?  Why?

I suppose there must've been times when the Lord smiled down with amusement at my little displays.  As a new mother, I suppose I was pretty immature - at least occasionally.  Don't get me wrong: I still pray about naps.  And bedtime.  And sleep in general, along with a myriad of other things which may not seem to hold any eternal significance.  But over the years I've realized a few things.  They may not be incredibly brilliant: I'm sure that those experienced mamas out there will find this post rather unoriginal.  But back then I didn't really "get it."

'Cause it's not about the sleep.

Those nap times, those frustrating nights, had other purposes aside from my child's rest.  They grew my compassion for struggling moms, for one thing.  After all, an exhausted mother loves exhausted company....or at least an empathetic ear. And those days helped to keep me humble.  If one's child does exactly as one wants him to, it's easy to begin to take all the credit.   They taught me, eventually, that children are amazingly unique.  And that when I do find that I have a stellar sleeper, I should be very, very thankful.

Finally, those times of frustrating imperfection built my character.  They taught me, in their own mundane way, that God can be counted on even when His answer is "no."  They showed me that I could survive under less than perfect circumstances, and my children will survive too.  They showed me that God, in his ultimate fatherhood, loves me even through my silly little displays of temper...just as I love my children through theirs.

So pray on, tired mama.  It's okay.  You may even want to stomp your foot a bit at times.  God gets it.  He can handle it.  And He may even teach you something through it.

1 comment:

tlckatz said...

amen, Mindy! good job.