This is my baby girl at 7:00 this morning. And me, clad in bathrobe, slippers and bare-ankled, had just driven my son up to the bus stop in 23 degree weather. Afterward, I immediately grabbed my camera so as to catch her expression for posterity. So I’ll remember. See how intently she stares at me? Cute, huh? Or is it something else? Look closer…
You know what I see? Accusing eyes. That’s because I’m awash with guilt this morning. It clings to me and it’s hard to shake. Guilt. It’s because of how I acted last night. God help me. Let me explain.
I’m not what one would call a natural mother. It just doesn’t come easy to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my children dearly… it just means I’m not as flowy as some women appear to be. I don’t always feel 100% about what I’m doing. For instance, the first week I had Annabelle at home, I panicked around 2:00 a.m. one morning. This after a two hour feeding session and her constant cries. She was a cluster-feeder (if anyone knows that term ). So, because my baby girl continued to cry after a couple of hours, she was obviously still hungry, right? So I kept pressing her into my bosom. But for some odd reason, she kept arching and pulling away. Then I remembered… skin on skin. That’s what she needed! I frantically stripped us down to our waists and tried again. Drink, baby girl! I know you’re hungry! But the arching continued. That’s when I knew. Most assuredly, Annabelle had forgotten how to suck! So I woke my husband. Lo and behold, she quieted in his arms. And 18 pounds later, it turns out she hadn’t forgotten how to suck after all.
Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Matthew 26:40
And there are other instances. Too many to name, really. And then there’s last night. God help me! Eight years ago, I went through this with my son. And I handled it badly. VERY BADLY. But this time around, I was going to excel. I was going to not let it get to me. I was going to be flowy… like the other mothers. See, I planned to overcome sleepless nights. I was going to be happy about it. And gentle. Because I’m a mom! It’s my job. And boy, do I want to be a gentle and nurturing creature for my babies.
At first, Annabelle did great. At around 2 months in, we had one week of bliss as she pretty much slept through the night… not waking till 3 or 4 for her first feeding. Oh, happy day! And I did what any mother would do… I bragged about my child to all who would listen. My baby is so good, she sleeps all night! But that’s when things began to change. As time progressed, she began to wake more frequently. Back to two times. And most recently… three, four, five… Who knows anymore. I lose count. Two nights ago, I voiced it to Jason… “Last night was the worst night ever!” That’s because she started waking up at before Midnight! But I was wrong. Because last night was truly the worst night ever! She showed me… she got up at 11:00. She stirred before I even had time to close my eyes.
“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 7:11
This is where the guilt sets in. I let it fly. There was a volcanic eruption from the deep pit of my soul… the most obscene word burst forth. And honestly, it was satisfying. It was the most accurate word for how I felt. And then they came more easily… as the night progressed, more and more obscene words spewed from my mouth leaving a sulfuric stench in the air. I cursed. I lamented. And worse? I felt angry at God. “You could make her sleep!” But the fact is, she didn’t sleep. Not soundly. She awoke so many times… and I handled it terribly.
Last night, I felt justified in my bitter words. I was angry. And weak. And because I was so tired, I felt I deserved to let off a little (a lot) of steam. But now, in the light of day, I simply feel guilt. I don’t want to be like this. I am a mother. I’m Annabelle’s mother. And so, when I peered into her little nut brown eyes this morning, I saw only accusation.
In the light of day, I see things more clearly. And what I see is something amiss…
Notice anything wrong with this picture? That’s my laundry basket and it’s placed on top of my Bible. And it’s symbolic of what’s taken place in the last four and 1/2 months. See, I had a baby. And busyness set in. And there’s so much to do. And because my schedule is crammed full, some things have taken a back seat. Namely, time with God. I’ve put other stuff first. Like laundry. And so, I suffer. And not only I, but my whole family. For I’m sure my husband felt the abrupt wind of the covers being flung off of me. I’m sure he heard the ugliness I carelessly flung forth as I stomped to the nursery… and deep down, perhaps I wanted him to. Misery loves company, so they say.
But as I said, in the light of day… I see. And I don’t like what I see. For I don’t want to be that woman. I want to be flowy. A natural mother. And in order to do that, I have to make time for God. I have to put Him first again. And when I do, He will sustain me. He will help me. Because He has the power to help me soothe my baby girl on a sleepless night when I have no clue as to why she’s waking ten times. Because truth is, His grace is sufficient for me…
Funny thing about this blog. I started it because I wanted to encourage people. I wanted to help others stand. But today, it appears I’m the one who needs help in standing. This tired mama needs a bit of encouragement – and prayers – and not just for my sake, but for my family’s sake. Lord help me… if I can’t have rest, the act of sleeping, may I at least have rest in Thee. For Your grace is sufficient for me.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
I close with Annabelle’s picture. Check out that face. Oh, it’s true I was covered with guilt this morning. And it may be I saw only accusation in her eyes first thing. However, just moments after I perceived condemnation, she graced me with a smile. It reaches her eyes. And you know… it’s a reflection of His eyes… Him smiling down on me. Grace for me.