We call him Dr. Destructo, and with good reason.
The other evening I was tidying the play area - a little space close to the kitchen with baby and toddler toys, for the little ones to play nearby while I'm working. The play area'd had a lot of love recently and things were in pretty serious disarray. Alone in the house with Gabriel, having a few minutes to spare before I would take him up to bed, I thought to spiff it up. Give us the gift of a nice neat play space in the morning.
I gathered the play food into their groups. I sorted the magnetic animals and the ring-stacking cone. I put the car and tow truck in the Little People garage along with their mechanics. Gabe was happily beside me, and it took me a few minutes to realize what he was doing.
To my dismay, he was coming along behind me and undoing everything. Unabashedly, without shame. The clothes to dress the little princess? Plucked up one by one and dropped off the shelf. The magnetic animals? Dumped on the floor again. His sister's plastic tea set and the tractor set. And then he went for the real prize: those child-sized pots and pans.
He'd come through like a tiny tornado and disrupted my attempts at order, completely and utterly.
Some times in life are like that - you're trying to put things in order, and you've nearly got it...and then one thing happens and it's all undone. Without warning, in an instant. Erased. Changed. Undone. As though it had never been almost there.
Some people in life are like that. There are those who sweep in and knock us off balance. Sometimes in a positive way, sometimes not. And there are children who are like that too. They come into our lives like little tidal waves: roaring, confusing us, stretching us. They challenge all our previous experiences, all we thought we knew of parenting. They leave us a little shaken...and maybe even a little scared.
Gabriel has been that child for me.
He has been a hard baby for me. I love him fiercely and completely, but he has been hard. Considerably more demanding than my other children (with one possible exception), a lot more clingy. He refuses to sleep through the night with anything like consistency - most nights he's up three times. He consistently yells over my voice when I read aloud for school. He is challenging, in more ways than I can express here and now.
And I know, yes, I know, that there are parents in far more difficult circumstances. I know there are so many babies with health issues and intolerances. I hope and pray that my words do not sound callous or insensitive. I do not mean for them to be so.
But in my own life, in my family, in my home, in my circumstances, it's been very much a stretching experience. He has been a stretching experience. But it's an experience given specifically to me, and I'm growing through it.
I am finding my footing - and finding myself thankful. Thankful for this past year, the challenging times as well as the happy ones. And there have been very happy times for Gabe and me. We have a great time together, and I think it's safe to say we're crazy in love with each other.
Still, the truth remains: he rocked my world.
He has changed me forever, and it's good. He is a blessing, and an instrument that the Lord has used to shape, humble and mold me. I'm so thankful for my little son, for the place he's taken in our family. Sometimes coming undone makes me stronger in the end.
Whatever the path, whatever the situation, it can refine me. God can refine me through it, if I let him. Even through those crazy twists and turns of this journey of life.