Something happened the other night that doesn’t happen often: my three year old woke up to go to the bathroom.
This doesn’t happen often for two reasons. One, she sleeps like a rock, and usually only wakes up when she is sick. Two, she wears a pull-up to bed and therefore doesn’t wake up to use the toilet.
She did wake up though, and she DID use the toilet.
She was not sick, and was in fact happy to go back to bed, snuggle up with her blankie and roll over to sleep.
Except for the second thing that happened that doesn’t happen that often: my three year old didn’t sleep.
For whatever reason, she could not settle down, and she could not go back to sleep. Being a three year old, she did the only thing she could do. She cried for her Mama, for me.
The result was that I was up with her, getting in and out of my bed, and down to her little bed that nearly touches the floor. Every time I thought I had settled her down, I would get back in my own bed, and pray. I’d pray that God would settler her heart, mind, and body down, that his grace would extend to her, that his grace would keep her siblings (who share the room with her) asleep, that his grace would get us all back to sleep.
“God give her the grace to sleep” I sighed the fourth time I heaved myself out of bed, and went to wipe her tears and kiss her forehead.
Oh, did I mention that I’m currently seven months pregnant? Factor that into your mental image of me getting up and down in the middle of the night. I didn’t just want her to sleep. I wanted to sleep too!
Finally, I grabbed a pillow, and headed back to my daughter’s side. This time, I had given up, and do the thing I rarely do, actually lay down with her in her own bed, hoping against hope that Mama being with her would calm her down.
As I lay down, trying to get as comfortable as possible on her much thinner mattress, the very words of my own prayer came into my mind.
“I am the grace she needs to sleep.”
I smiled into the darkness, and kissed my little girl. She put her hand on my belly, rubbed it, then cuddled herself as close as she could get to me with that belly in the way.
I had been praying for God to be my magic sleep potion for my child, and myself. I had been praying for God to do the work that he was calling me to do as my child’s parent.
I prayed for the grace my child needed to sleep. And God answered my prayer, he gave her me.
How often does this happen and I’m too blind in my own selfishness to see it? How often do I just want my kids to be good, or be quiet, or get along for ten seconds without me doing anything?
How often do I want God to parent my kids, but I don’t want to do any parenting?
God blessed me and my husband with these kids. We purposely had all these kids. Yes, intentionally, on purpose, all four of them. We prayed with desperate tears for this fourth child still growing within me. This fourth child is our “rainbow baby”. This pregnancy has been difficult, and scary.
Yet, it’s a blessing. The pregnancy and the baby.
I’m thankful for that sleepless night. I’m thankful for the rough few days that followed because Mama was tired. I’m thankful for what those difficulties – self inflicted to an extent – exposed in me: selfishness.
Parenting has a way of breaking you down as a parent and exposing sin in you that you would have sworn up and down you didn’t have. Mine is selfishness, and anger. These few days of little sleep, on top of regular third trimester tiredness, and typical childhood folly have really shown that to me.
So, my prayers are changing.
I’m still praying that God would give my family grace, but specifically, I pray that he would give me grace. The grace to get up, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a podcast, in the middle of a sibling fight, in the middle of a really uncomfortable Braxton Hicks cramp. I need the grace to get up out of my comfort zone, to stop yelling from across the room, and to image God to them by being the grace my kids need.
God wants to give my kids grace, I can see that. More importantly, I see how he wants to give it to them, and it’s through me.
Fun fact. My name, Anna, means Grace.
Soli Deo Gloria