My two-year-old daughter climbs into bed 45 minutes before her usual bedtime. After a busy holiday ending in eight days of traveling and many different beds in a different time zone, she is officially exhausted.
I pull the covers over her and hand her the ritual bedtime sippy cup of milk letting her know I’d be back. I leave her light on to reassure her that I’ll be back and exit to go tuck in the other two children. Her older siblings, having struggled to pull themselves out of bed for school this morning, are also going to bed early.
This is when the wailing begins. Life is not right. Well, not the way she wants it or expects it to be at least.
“I want my light off!”
“No say good-night to Bella-Nate! No! Never EVER!”
“Empty! Empty! More Miiiiiillllllk!”
The screams are loud and relentless.
Hoping God understands, I rush each of the older two through their prayers and only half-heartedly listened to the little last minute things they want to tell me before kisses and lights out.
I hurry back into my toddler’s room.
“Sami, why are you crying? What’s wrong?”
She wails with tears streaming down her face. “No light on!” Easy to solve. I turn the light off. She continues to wail.
“Why are you still crying?”
She flails her little body to show me just how utterly distraught she is. “Empty! More milk!”
She doesn’t need more milk. She’s had almost a full pint of her favorite drink today. I tell her so. Or from her perspective, I stab her heart with red-hot pointy needles and twist. I’m certain the neighbors hear her cries of agony.
OK. For the sake of peace I will go fill up her cup of milk. I hear her sobs from downstairs and try to will her to be quiet so that her brother and sister can go to sleep.
Back upstairs I hand her the new cup of milk. She doesn’t want it.
Yes she does. But oh the horror! It’s not full enough.
I sigh and sit on the edge of her bed. She’s tired. Very tired. She’s not thinking clearly. I’m not going to satisfy her. Instead of trying to calm her and respond to everything she says I decide to just sit with her while she cries. I put my hand on her leg (which at first she doesn’t like, but then she does) to let her know I’m here, but otherwise I stay quiet. Eventually, the cries turn into whimpers. I hear her take a few more sips from her cup and roll over. I continue to wait with her listening for the breathing to change. For peace to settle in.
I hear it. I slowly get up to make my exit.
Sudden panicked screeches! “Mom! Don’t leave! Don’t leave!” I try to reassure her in a soft soothing voice that she is OK. I am still here. She can go to sleep.
“NOOOOOOOO!!!!! Don’t leave!” She starts to cry.
I take a deep breath. Apparently I’m not done yet.
I choose to sit in the glider on the opposite side of her room. She protests this at first but quickly accepts when she sees this is the silent deal I’m making with her. The cat, too realizes this is where I’ll be hanging out for a while and jumps up in my lap. Dark room. Warm kitty. Deep breaths of sleep surround me from each of my children’s rooms. I briefly nod off myself succumbing to my own exhaustion.
I wonder. Moments like this. When I as a parent give in to the ridiculousness of my child’s requests. Give in because I have compassion given the circumstances. When I stay patient with the wailing. When I just sit and wait for them to accept what I have known they needed from the beginning…
These moments when I am somehow able to suspend my frustration and just meet my child where they are at…
How often does God do this for me? How often do I make requests in my blinded state of wailing, confident that I know what I need to make things better?
And God has compassion on me.
He hands me another sippy cup of milk. Maybe sits with me while I cry until I settle down. Maybe stretches the rules a bit so that I can more easily accept what I really need?
Sometimes I think I make Him sit with me in that state a very long time because, like my own kids, I’m pretty stubborn. And immature. Or blinded by emotion.
This year I want to work on being more compassionate with my kids. Not indulgent. But patient with where they’re at.
But I also want to look at areas in my life where I may be throwing a temper tantrum. I want to work on letting go so that God can move on with me.
Can you relate to throwing temper tantrums at God’s feet? What’s your parenting goal for this year?