"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." To Kill a Mockingbird Miss Maudie Atkinson to Scout, Chapter 10.
There is something keeping my baby up at night. She will wake up, suddenly disturbed, and cry as if she is so upset and annoyed to be up for no reason at all (my similar emotions follow shortly behind). I will race to check on her...sometimes every 45 minutes...ALL. NIGHT. LONG...to find out what in the world is the matter. I'll enter her room, see her standing up in her crib with her arms out, tears down her puzzled face. I'll hold her and in the silence...we hear it. The shrieking. The squawking. The unbearable squabbledygook (new word) dominating the quiet. What is this hideous creature, you ask? What could be so heinous as to wake a sleeping baby again and again with the torment of it's blaring noise?
That's right. A mockingbird has made his home in a tree outside of Matilda's room. Of all the creatures to ever exist, this one Adam coined with the moniker of unfriendly perfection. Mock...yeah...ing...yeah...bird...yeah...yeah...yeah.. This mockingbird doesn't sing. It beeps, and whistles, and I swear it is holding up a little birdie bullhorn to its beak and winking to his mockingbird buddies with each little shrill of his voice. Evidently this bird has recently travelled from a rather risky area of town, from the other side of the tracks so to speak...somewhere where apparently a car is being broken into every minute of the day so that while he resided there he was able to precisely pick up the exact rhythm, pitch, and verse of every kind of car alarm known to man. That's right - our mockingbird doesn't just make random nonsensical noises. No, no, lucky us, we got a mockingbird that perfectly imitates the sound of a car alarm going off. ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
The first few nights it happened I wasn't even sure what it was. "Surely that is not coming from nature," I thought to myself. "God would not be so cruel." (Mockingbirds are clearly in the category of brown recluse spiders and hairless cats in my book, that is, products of the Fall). After rocking Matilda back to sleep for the umpteenth time, I was determined to find that sucker for myself. Hush little baby, don't say a word, mama's gonna go kill that stupid mockingbird! I snuck outside at 4am, pacing our sidewalk, trying to determine in which tree this wicked being had taken up residence. Aha! It didn't take long until I tracked it's racket to the top of a nearby tree - the sound was like a laser, piercing the darkness with a bright beam of blaring bothersomeness (yes, that is a new word too). I could hear it! But alas, I couldn't see it!
The next night was worse. It was so bad that this time I brought in reinforcements: my husband. Up until now, Josh hadn't really experienced the magnitude of this feathered monster. I mean, from our bedroom you can't really hear it. However, since my eardrums are on the same frequency of our baby monitor, I can't NOT hear it anymore. That monitor works all too well, not only picking up the ramblings of our baby, but now haunting me with the outside world that is determined to torment her night after night. Oh, that bird. (cringe!)
"Josh, I'm going to strangle that bird. You've got to do something. Go get the gun."
Now, now - calm yourselves. We don't own a "gun"...we own a NERF GUN. And get it he did.
Josh begrudgingly drags himself out of bed and finds himself on our front sidewalk at 3am, in his jammies and members only jacket, armed with a flashlight and bright yellow Nerf gun. If he ever had doubted my dramaticism (new word #3) of the situation before, all questions were hushed in his mind and quickly substituted with the overwhelmingly loud fowl communiqué. He flashed the light up into said tree, and the little squawker stopped. Whew. A moment of relief. The only problem was, with the scare of the light, Josh could no longer follow the sound to determine right where he was in the tree. Frustration abounds!
We've told our landlord, who (though he doesn't have an 8-month-old waking every hour) empathizes with our frustration. He is going to try and have the tree trimmed to see if that will give the intrusive bird a hint-hint that he is being evicted. Our neighbors have complained about the noise as well, so we know we're notthat crazy. This is just getting a little ridiculous! If you have any suggestions of how to shut this creature up, please let me know. I'm thinking if I can silence the mockingbird, then maybe I can get my baby to sleep longer...in other words...killing two birds with one stone! ;)
Perhaps Miss Maudie Atkinson (see quote at the top from To Kill A Mockingbird) was a bird-watcher, a nature-lover, an appreciator of creation...but I bet she never slept next to a tree with a mockingbird in it. If it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, then I'd better start repenting now. One way or another, that bird is going to meet it's doom (or at least the demise of it's current home). Hell hath no fury like a mother's scorn for a bird that keeps her baby up at night. Let me tell you.
Hey friends! Perhaps you remember this post from a while ago about my friend Kelly's time in Haiti. Kelly runs The Oak Project in Chattanooga, TN. She is one of those individuals I would consider "an anointed soul". She has a gift that can only be directly from the Divine...and that gift is translated into loving others well, specifically those in desperate need (of love, of care, of clothes, of humor...the list goes on and on). You can read more about her organization on her website - I thoroughly encourage you to check it out, it is a wholly worthwhile cause and God is using Kelly and The Oak Project to turn Chattanooga inside out with unconventional grace and unconditional love.
All this to say - more Haiti stories will be coming because my husband, Josh, is accompanying Kelly and other folks involved with The Oak Project to Haiti next month. That's right, in case you have been living under a rock or avoiding my twittering frenzy, Josh is going to Haiti! Amazing!
The Oak Project is partnering with an orphanage in Haiti called For His Glory Outreach. They have had over an 80% increase of orphans since the earthquake, and are in serious need of resources, help, love, and prayers. The nannies who work there just give give give - with truly nothing in return. As a mother, I can give all of myself to one little individual day in and day out and vouch for how wonderfully exhausting it can be - now, increase that by 80%! Whoa, those women are saints. Not to mention the nannies were already outnumbered before the earthquake - they've just had to continue to sacrifice and give all the more since their homes and hearts have been so devastated. This country is in NEED, people. I'm just like you - I watch the news and want to know how to help. Not just to say a prayer, but really help. And, not just send a generic check to a huge organization...but really help and know WHERE is this money going - what is going to come of it? Will it even make a difference? Will a child even benefit from this dime I drop in the bucket?
Like all of you, I have a busy life. I have a job, not much vacation time, and a little one who needs me as much as possible. I can't go to Haiti. But, Josh can! It is a sacrifice - I will certainly miss him, Matilda will miss him, it is costing us a lot financially (even apart from the donations received, we are footing a huge part of the bill from our own pockets, plus paying extra for Josh since the general trip cost is from Chattanooga, not California) and frankly - it is scary! Haiti is unknown territory! But, when we talk to Kelly, when we hear the direct-from-Haiti-true-stories-of-miracles, when we pray about it and doors open up...well, that is undeniable. So, off he will go!
As you can see on the little website I made for Josh, he's posted his support letter explaining what they can do while they are there. Let me tell you, this is only the beginning of this story. God has BIG plans for The Oak Project in Haiti. The partnership they are establishing with For His Glory Outreach Orphanage is going to move mountains. It is going to change children's hearts. It is going to even save lives.
While Josh is there, he will be serving the nannies in the orphanage, helping to give them a break and to fill in the gaps of service wherever he can. He will take new photos of the children so that their roster can be updated for adoptions. He will probably do dishes and mop floors and who-knows-what-else. He will also be praying with and over the orphanage, using his newly acquired skills in evangelism and apologetics he's been learning in grad school this last year. Who knows exactly how God will use him? But, he will be helping The Oak Project cast new vision for this orphanage, for it's administrators, for the nannies and the children.
If there's one thing we know for certain about a mission trip - it is that you can't NOT be changed from it. I'm excited to see what God will show Josh while he is there. What vision for his own life will it cast in his heart? I'm curious how God will use me - the praying wife at home - loving from afar.
I urge you to join us on this journey! Visit the site, spread the word, and encourage Josh as he takes this leap of faith!
Thanks for your prayers!
p.s. I would be remiss if I didn't shout out a HUGE THANKS for those who have donated money for the trip - WOW - it has been AWESOME to see how God has provided through each of you. We sincerely appreciate it so much - Josh says it is so inspiring to be able to help pay that love forward...so, THANK YOU! Haiti thanks you too! God bless each of you tenfold!
p.p.s. Kelly is in Haiti RIGHT NOW! We will hopefully be Skyping with her directly from the orphanage this weekend (depending on the internet connection)! Please pray for her safe travels as she helps establish the details for the bigger group trip in July! THANKS!!!
Yawn. Parenthood is a joy. Yawn. Parenthood is unpredictable and fun. Yawn. Parenthood is exhausting, but totally worth it. Yawn. Parenthood is...what was I saying? I'm sorry, I haven't slept in like 7 months and I have the nagging notion that I'm not going to sleep for the next 30 years. Hm.
I am careful to write this blog and not have it sound like I'm just complaining. Genuinely. I love motherhood enough to embrace the fact that I willingly, lovingly chose to give up sleep for the next however many years...but, whew, it doesn't mean I'm not tired! :)
Ok, seriously, this child does not sleep. It doesn't matter if she takes naps, doesn't take naps, eats more, eats less, teething or not, crying or not...the child is just AWAKE. Last night was the doozy of all nights. She literally woke up about every 30 minutes. Sometimes she was happy, just fidgety and awake. Other times she was fussy and would scoot around in her crib until she sleepily bonked her head and was crying out of frustration not being able to crawl around more (because this bed is for sleeping! not crawling! you silly child!) Finally I caved at 5am and brought her back to bed with us where I could nurse her and snuggle her and at least try to catch a wink till the alarm when off about 6:45.
I know it is possible for her to stay asleep - she has had miracle moments of 3, 4, and even 5 hour long spells of sleep...but it never sticks. Now that she is fully in teething mode - I'm not too hopeful for things to change any time soon. The worst of it is - it is most likely my fault. That is, I was and am a terrible sleeper.
My mother tells me that I didn't sleep through the night till about 9 months to a year, and even after that - it was always a challenge to either get me to go to sleep or to keep me asleep. Even today, I'm a terribly light sleeper.
I wish I could utilize this little pockets of awake time. Don't you wish you could bottle up all those little times of trying to fall asleep and string them together into a productive timeline? I bet they would add up to a whole month or two that I am just laying wide awake...either trying to get a song unstuck in my head or a useless thought about work to filter out. Sometimes it seems that is the time of day you feel most brilliant too...I wonder how many starts of stories or poems or books or songs are out there just floating around in lala land - never having been written because the author eventually fell asleep and forgot it. Or how many "comeback speeches" have been written in our heads right before we drift off to sleep? You know what I mean - somebody said something to you, ticked you off or rubbed you the wrong way, and it has been on "repeat" in your brain for the last hour, nagging you and not letting you sleep. Finally you give in, and then you come up with the most brilliant response "I should have said...!!!" Sigh. I guess sometimes we need that kind of thoughtful closure to our day before we can "let go" and rest.
Well, whatever it is that is keeping us up at night - I wish I could read my baby's mind. I don't think she's writing any speeches...
"Mama, I hate peas! Stop giving them to me! Stop tricking me with a bite of sweet potatoes and then switching it up to peas before I look at the spoon, it is not funny!"
got a song stuck in her head...
"If mommy makes up one more song about my chunky thighs I'm going to scream!"
or anything - but I wish I knew what was going on inside of that little brain...
"Play! I want to play, mommy! Play! Let's play!"
Well, who knows.
I just remind myself to be grateful. I'm determined to not take this time for granted. I tell myself that, over the years, I've lost sleep over much much worse things than a beautiful baby. This is a wonderful thing to be awake for! Even at three in the morning.
And then, through my blurry eyes, I look down at that sweet little face (screaming or not) and thank God for her, truly. And then I stumble over to the glider in her room and try to not sit on the cat who is most likely sleeping there, and attempt to focus on how to soothe this child. And you know what...I do. (Granted, I may soothe her 5, 6, 7 times a night) But, I get to be the one she loves and trusts and completely feels comfort in. The one she falls asleep on.
And with all the dreaming I'm missing out on, I simply can't complain.
Parenthood is...a dream come true.
(Not that I'm not open to hearing your tricks for getting your baby to sleep...)