For the past couple months life has been a little rougher than normal. Why? I have a 2-year-old that has discovered how to climb out of her crib. Good times. I am continually chasing, disciplining, threatening and giving in. (Yes, my own inconsistencies are part of the problem!) I could find no peace. Reading an excerpt out of Elizabeth Elliot’s Keep a Quiet Heart (highly recommended), she recounts a man saying “if I had two kids I could have written a book on how children act, but I had three…” I can soooo relate, and I have four…girls!
This third one has broken the mold. She doesn’t easily comply like the first two or last one, she doesn’t go down easy, she is my “spirited” one. She is me! Go figure.
This issue has sent me to my knees crying out for help aided with long discussions into the night with my husband trying to find a solution.
In desperation I started to lay down with her each night in my bed to help her sleep. Through this, I remembered that I used to do this same act with my first child. I would have a little routine with her: bathe, story, bed while mommy lie with her for 15 minutes. When did I lose this idea of special snuggled time? And what else are my younger children missing out on that the oldest was privileged to have? Shall I not do what I did in the beginning when I had great enthusiasm for child-rearing just because I’m worn out…or worse…selfish with my time? (Brief disclaimer: I am pro-mommy alone time, it is necessary…back to story)
This reminds me of the scripture:
Revelation 2:4 (NIV) Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
I have forsaken the enthusiasm of being a parent!
So, I am laying with said 2-year-old and she is NOT AT ALL interested in sleeping. She is more interested in putting her grubby and slightly foul smelling little fingers near my nose. I am laying thinking, “Lord! Please! I am miserable!”
All of a sudden my spirit rebels, “What? Wait! Hold up! Miserable? Really?” it says to me.
What do I have to do that is SO VERY IMPORTANT that I can’t lay with my very previous daughter? Get on Facebook to update my status? Really? Or clean?
No, no…all this can wait.
What would 15-30 minutes of precious holding time mean to a mother who has just lost her baby? It is EVERYTHING! Shame on me for thinking such a horrible thought that I would equate laying down with my daughter as miserable. No dirty dish or website could separate that grieving mother from those 15-30 minutes! (Disclaimer 2: Obviously cleaning and a little computer time aren’t “evil” but what I am addressing is the heart of the entire matter.)
This “I am miserable” phrase revealed to me that my heart was not in the right place. So I turn on the lights and started tickling her. She giggles and my heart melts. I am still frustrated, mind you, because I still need a real solution to this toddler not sleeping situation.
In desperation I emailed my homeschooling group asking for advice…and a crib tent. I got both, praise the Lord!
The crib tent was for the nap so she doesn’t climb out of bed continually during school time. And I simultaneously developed a more precise bedtime ritual, that actually occurred quite naturally.
For those who care, here is what I did: I get the three oldest (toddler included) in bed (they share a room) and start telling them stories like “Seven Dancing Princesses”, where they are the stars and their own personalities come up throughout the story. And to the hilarity of all my girls instead of saying “The End” I always (accidentally) end up saying “In Jesus’ name, Amen,” because apparently my brain wires are a little crossed too late in the evening. Then, after prayers I quietly sit until the baby seems settled enough that I can leave without fighting her constantly getting up.
I have learned that despite wanting them to go to bed at 8pm, sometimes putting them down a half-hour later makes a big difference in bedtime battles. I guess if I needed them to go to bed earlier I could go to the park and wear them out, but call me lazy I usually don’t go to such measures.
I like to read Teri Maxwell’s admonitions from her weekly newsletter compiled into a book of the same name Just Around the Corner” which highlighted the verse:
Malachi 4:6 (NIV) He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
I realize, upon reading this verse, that it isn’t okay to allow my heart to wonder from my children. Obviously, this is a daily struggle. Life tends to deal with the “urgent” but not necessarily the important. So, let us strive to continually check our hearts, are they towards our children or towards that phone conversation with our sisters/friends to discuss something super-spiritual (or sometimes super-not-spiritual)? Again, not anti-phone conversations with sisters/friends (I have mine almost daily) but when our children interrupt with their wants and needs let us make sure we respond with patience and a smile because we know what our priorities are.
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