I am 43 years old. I am kind of in charge 6 humans. I am desperately in love with another human, and, although I am not in charge of him, I kind of boss him around. We seek to live in harmony. We love each other. We love Jesus. We have a heart for the lost and broken. We are living this out through adoption, foster care, and reaching out to those in need.
Hold your applause.
My mission minded, world traveling, twenty year old is moving out of the dorms and back home to save money. Her thought process is basically; if I want to love on hungry children in huts, I needn’t borrow in excess to finish my education.
Hold your applause.
My other son will be 18 in April. He struggles with Dyslexia. We have run the gamut in educating him. He came to us the other night and asked to finish his high school education home schooled, with dual credit college course, like his older sister, in order to prepare to join the Coast Guard. He went on to explain that the Coast Guard will enable him to pay for college so that he can study Fire Science. He feels that God is calling him to work in his community, saving lives and helping those in need.
Hold your applause.
I am in the pediatrician’s office and I just read a study that suggested that when you are feeling down and discouraged list your successes born of lessons. The scripture reference is “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71) The aforementioned is my list. I didn’t get past those because as I was jotting them down something caught my eye. Wedged in my cleavage… the junior mint I lost earlier today. Safely tucked between my boobs. Yes, I ate it. Which provoked my three year old to ask for one. I dug around and didn’t find one, so he started crying.
He’s screaming, pointing at my boobs, that he wants one, just as the doctor enters the exam room. The doctor says “You breast feed him? I thought he was adopted? Is he three now?”
I stammer “No, he’s not breast fed, I don’t know what he’s talking about.” Besides, lets discuss the real issue for my visit. “He is probably just tired. He never sleeps.” And it is true. This child doesn’t sleep. And he’s killing us. So while at the moment he is crying because I ate the last piece of candy, he has also got to be exhausted, I know that we are. So I explain, “I was hoping you could check and see if he has an ear infection or if there is some physical ailment that is waking him. Last night we were up twelve times.” I know I look a mess. I haven’t slept in … years, I have no make up on, I have on yoga pants and traces of chocolate on my chest, my hair is falling from a lazy pony tail, and I am ready to cry along with the three year old.
She checks him out. He has one ear completely compacted with wax. “Some kids just have waxy ears.” And she gives me a list of suggestions for helping with that. “Otherwise, he is quite healthy.” Here it comes. She starts, “I think he is manipulating you with bad sleep habits. When he cries at night and you come to him you are only encouraging this behavior.” While I am still reeling from my failure as a mommy in the area of ear wax management, I half heartedly listen to her suggestions for breaking these habits.
I already know all this stuff. I have done this before. I have brought every one of my kids through this office, looking like this, being this is exhausted, with this complaint… they don’t sleep. I am not stupid? I have a Master’s degree in Child development. Why do I keep coming here? Why do I keep making the same mistakes? Why do I keep getting the same advice?
We leave. Heads up mommies, they still don’t prescribe Ambien for babies.
My husband is eagerly waiting the diagnosis. “He is playing us. Just like those before him, and those after.” My husband is shocked and appalled. It is a long night of “sleep training.” At 3:00 am I hear my sweet husband digging through drawers.
“What are you looking for?”
*Side note: the three year old has an odd obsession with wipes. He carries one in each hand. And he wakes at night screaming “WIPES! WIPES! WIPES!”
“Honey, don’t give him wipes. That’s not a requirement for healthy sleep patterns.”
He whimpers and falls into the bed. The screams continue. “WIPES! WIPES! WIPES!”
We semi ignore him and 40 minutes later he is quiet. I can’t sleep now so I google the Coast Guard. I am looking to see if they have a division that is in charge of goldfish and the shallow end of swimming pools. They don’t. I write a letter to my other son who is away at Marine Military leadership camp. I look for a scripture to encourage him and I remember the scripture from this morning. “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71)
Twenty years of sleep deprivation is good so I might learn my God’s decrees. If I learn them. How often am I failing to learn them? This is the question I pose… How many studies have I attended and then been stiff necked about the message? How many times have I made my life harder, or worse, those around me are impacted by the failure? I want to learn, not simply go through the motions of Christianity. To actually learn is to be changed. The baby didn’t learn to walk and then go back to crawling? In fact he progressed to running! He won’t settle for sitting still now. He learned there was a better way. “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71) This is my new favorite encouraging scripture. I have a dozen things I want to be better at; I am constantly in search of ways to better myself. But if I just go through the motions and I am not changed, if I do not learn, I have made no progress.
This morning I am tired. But I won’t be going back to the pediatrician with a non-sleeper. Children don’t sleep. I have learned this now. And all the other afflictions, they are good. So long as I learn.