I know...shocker. But, really, up until a few nights ago the girls had been sleeping relatively soundly through the night. I'm not saying bedtime was a cakewalk, but by the time they eventually fell asleep, they stayed asleep most nights. This being a miracle after months of acclimating them to sharing a room together.
Until a few nights ago, anyway.
I'll admit they sound a little worse than they are. I mean, when I hear the word "terror" I think freakish screaming that requires some kind of heavy medication and a straight jacket; or some kind of exaggerated nightmare that you wake up from in a cold sweat after having seen a horror movie. But, as scary as it sounds, it is mostly just sad.
Matilda will fall asleep fine (and by "fine" I mean after a good supper, bath, about 18 stories, prayers, and 400 rounds of singing Silent Night) but, about an hour and a half later, she cries out, moans, yells, and whimpers. It's pitiful. She's incoherent and not even really awake. If it persists or gets loud enough, we'll go in, calm her and reassure her, pray over her and stroke her hair as she flops herself over and quickly falls back to sleep. Then, maybe 5, 20, 45 minutes later...the same thing. Again, and again, at least a few times every hour all. night. long. (Can you hear the exhaustion?)
I've asked other moms, I've researched the jellybeans outta the internet, and I even asked Matilda's "Joyful Parenting/Pre-K" class instructor if she had any insight. Just about everyone has the same, sympathetic response: It's normal, it's a phase, it will pass. This is reassuring, truly, but doesn't help my heart feel any better when I hear my sweet girl crying in futile agony in the middle of the night, even if I fully know in my head that she is absolutely okay. Pretty much the only resolution is to comfort her or not disturb her at all...which is downright miserable. The only consolation is that she has no memory of it whatsoever, and almost every resource I've found has said that this phase is usually harder on parents than it is on the actual "victim".
Last night, I couldn't take it. I finally caved around midnight and went and scooped her up out of her bed and plopped her into ours. I wasn't sleeping anyway, I might as well snuggle with her. I had found a medical article that said constant reassurance would at least help her to fall/stay asleep, so I totally justified my reaction with "internet science" (my favorite kind of science!) as I curled my arms around her little body. Finally, peace. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe I'll regret it later tonight when she demands she sleep in "big bed", but I don't really care. All you can do is do what you think is best for your child in that moment with the knowledge you have and go from there. It worked for me.
As I lay there beside her, I prayed over her layer after layer of God's protection. It was the only real comfort and help I could give her, asking Jesus to send her sweet thoughts and deep rest. And I thought about how she was just laying there, absorbing all of this, completely unaware of what was happening to her.
Then, I thought about how often that must happen to me and I don't even know it. How many times does God reach out to comfort me, intervening between me and potential harm, or extending magnificent amounts of love - and I am totally unaware of my need for it?
It must happen daily, hourly, minute-to-minute even. We live in a scary world. We're surrounded by news and warnings and rumors that constantly leave us living in a state of doubt or worry or fear. We have a million reasons in the world to be afraid. Read that again - We have a million reasons in the world to be afraid. That part is true. But we have a God that is not of this world. We have a Savior who entered in and had to familiarize Himself with fallen surroundings and temporal muck. We have a Lord who is sovereign and powerful and just by His love alone, He can change, create, and clean anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere.
There is plenty of terror out there. Plenty that we don't even know about, that we don't see, that we don't want to even acknowledge happens. And we kind of walk through life moaning about it, crying or whining, but I'm sure we don't even touch the tip of the ice berg compared to the evil that exists out there.
|mustache mug of coffee, round three|
Deep sigh. Ahhh. Maybe those were too heavy of thoughts for a midnight snuggle, maybe not. But, it made me incredibly grateful we have an all-powerful God who can cover our hearts and minds with shields of protection, even when we lay around totally not acknowledging it!
Our battle with night terrors might not be over, but they can offer me reminders from where my hope comes from and where to find ultimate peace. Last night certainly made me do a double-take at even my slightest need for Jesus, even at its most esoteric state: rest. Tranquil, restful sleep is a nightly gift of security we're given, maybe to remind us why we can be at peace at all.
That...and the reminder to be grateful God also (clearly) made coffee for those nights when your toddler just has to snuggle with you. Thanks, Lord.