|large and in charge |
(or so she thinks)
The unpredictability of parenthood is like living out a daily devotional, a constant barrage of new challenges and opportunities for instant application right at our fingertips if we so choose to follow what we believe instead of simply reacting how our (that is, my) nature gives way to. Never is this "opportunity" more apparent around here than at nap time. **sigh**
Matilda (who will turn 3 in less than a month!) is like many of us, and is most happy when she believes she is in charge and running the show. Usually this belief of hers can be held and sustained harmlessly simply by walking the fine line of getting away with as much as possible without her sister screaming too loudly or my not noticing if she is pushing the boundaries too far.
|Loopy with exhaustion|
Obviously, I know what our schedule holds in case something necessary comes up, but one of the grand luxuries of being a stay-at-home-mom is that I have the flexibility to mostly go with the flow and see how the day pans out hour-to-hour, granted the main chores for the day are eventually accomplished. This seems to work well enough for us, and Matilda and Daphne both appear reasonably adaptable as long as they adhere to a normal eating and nap schedule.
Matilda still needs a nap. I know some kids drop their naps by this age, but she is just not there yet. We've had a few days here or there when she has entirely missed her nap, and it's just not a pretty sight. Come 4, 5, 6 o'clock or so, she starts to get stars in her eyes, weepy at the least of obstacles, and blabbering like an incoherent bum. Yesterday was one of these crazy days. Finally by 6:30 she was loopy as a clown on nitrous oxide. She was so out of it she was barely making sense:
Matilda: Mom. Flowers (points to her flower jammies) And it's a flower and Minnie Mouse.
Me: Yes, that's true.
Matilda: I tell you what's true is Minnie Mouse and flowers. Minnie likes flowers and big ones and small ones.
She stares at me with crazy eyes and starts to point. Her hand gets closer and closer until she is zeroed in on my teeth. She stares and points at my teeth.
Matilda: I like these ones.
Me: Okaaaay, Matilda, time for bed.
You get the picture. Yikes. The kid then slept for 13 hours straight, thankfully making up for the nap she had so willfully skipped.
The thing is, without fail, every day when it comes to going to bed she will always always always start by telling you "I'm not tired". Maybe I will even believe her the first time she says it. Maybe I will even extend our activity a bit longer or read her one more story just so I can witness a yawn that clinches the deal that it is, indeed, time for bed. Nevertheless, yawn or no yawn, the girl will continue to try and convince you "I'm not tired". This would/could/has gone on for quite a while. Usually she will adhere enough to our regular routine to make it to bed somewhere after that second, yawn-o-rific "I'm not tired".
|Daphne doesn't look so sure either|
But, if that window is missed and the sleepy Matilda starts to escalate into a full-on exhaust-o-monster, then the final time I ask her to get in bed she responds with an utterly pathetic, whining, crying, screaming, kicking, total tantrum fit of "I'MMM NOT TIIIIRRRRRRRED!!!!" Which is exactly confirming to me the complete opposite of what she is screaming. Oh man. The girl has lost it. Get that child in bed. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 or read a storybook. Lights out, buddy. Good night.
It was after one of this oh-so-lovely screaming fits of rage which I wondered to myself about how this might roll out as a daily-devotional-life-application-God-to-me-as-His-child analogy? Hmm. It only took about half a second for it to sting me to my core.
How many times am I screaming and yelling in a resistant fit to God about what I think I need better than He does?
I suddenly pictured myself as a squirming, angry toddler, full of mischief and defiance and completely misunderstanding why in the world my life was being tortured in a certain way and when I least expected it. I found myself frustrated by not knowing the bigger picture, and felt invalidated for my anger and misunderstood for my dramatic reaction. I felt alone and scared and really tired from the confusion of why my efforts were so fruitless.
I snapped back to my reality and thought of my sweet Matilda. Was she defying me because she was stupid or slow or hateful? No. She simply just doesn't have all the information or fully understand the information she does have. In the same regard, while I might not purposefully be choosing sin because I know it is utter defiance against what God wants (that is, many of us don't head towards sin simply to spite what God wants for us), I too often think I know better than God does.
I don't have the big picture. I don't have all the information. I don't have the foreknowledge of how things will make a difference in the future or why/how certain circumstances happen when they do because of a greater need down the road ahead. I can't possibly fully understand why/how everything happens for a reason, but I can trust a God who does.
Too many times I approach lessons in life like the way I watch TV. These days, with DVRs everywhere, we get to watch pretty much whatever we want whenever we want to. Super-convenient and totally in our control. This is how I want my lessons in life to roll out:
Okay, God, gonna need some more patience here! So, um, if we could just fast-forward through this toddler tantrum and get to when she is napping peacefully, that would be real awesome. Also, could you get that baby to calm down? Cause I'm gonna need to work on speaking to my husband with more grace and this baby's teething makes me really frustrated. If we could then rewind and replay that super cute thing Matilda did earlier and pause on whenever I get to sip some coffee, I'd really appreciate it, God, thanks!
Yeah, this doesn't work so well in real life (shocker). There's no fast-forward or guide to knowing what's happening next. There's no pause button either. We don't get to pick and choose what we think we need if we are going to live wholly dependent on a God that we proclaim "knows better" than we do!
Most of the time, I "know better" than my toddler does. That's how this parenting thing works, and I've scarily been put in charge of making sure she stays alive and learns how-to's in order to navigate life. But, in order for this to work well, I need her to trust me and obey me, and believe that even if she is kicking and screaming in anger that somewhere amidst the mayhem she knows I love her enough to let her be confused and frustrated for a time.
So, there you have it. You can stop kicking and screaming now. You can stop the resistance and rest. The truth is, you were never really in charge after all.
Who knew a lesson so full of promise and hope could come out of that angry little sleep-monster? Well, I guess there's just another thing God already knew.
(Gosh, I have so much to learn.)