In parenting little ones, it’s tempting to fly through the days, weeks and months so quickly that we completely miss the “stages” our children are in until they are past. Surely, there are stages which we enjoy more than others. But sometimes, the stage which we just abandoned hurts. Not really in a “My baby is growing up,” kind of a way– but in a “Hey, this affects me and my comfort personally!”
Up until a few months ago, I found myself with two children who DAILY took long simultaneous afternoon naps. The house was so quiet, I found myself whispering if someone called on the phone. Most days, after getting them down, I would involuntarily sigh, big time. This time was MY TIME. It was more than refreshing. It was life-giving. It was the time when I was able to do whatever needed to be done, laundry, cleaning etc.and just be still for awhile.
This time became so precious to me, that I knew it was a little bit of an idol. I would secretly be SO frustrated if they woke up early that it would throw my entire afternoon off. Well, God in His infinite patience, began to make me aware of how closely, religiously rather, I was guarding the “ME” time and how it might be a problem for me. Around that time, Lucy began to have real trouble going to sleep at night and after a while of trying to address other things that it might be, it became clear that she needed to drop her nap. Inside I fought that so hard. I was so afraid of what would happen to my sanity level if I had to do without my brief of solace of quiet.
My own selfishness was preventing me from seeing what my daughter really needed and I was holding onto something that she didn’t need anymore because I thought I needed it.
What I truly needed was to let go a little bit. To surrender the control that we moms (and non-moms for that matter) crave so ferociously. Whether or not we admit it, we all desire some control over our “mothering.” Maybe it’s the kind of milk we give them. Maybe it’s other things. Maybe it’s the all mighty “schedule” which we fought hard to train them on and now do NOT want to relinquish.
Can I just be honest and speak a word of testimony on this topic? This may sound dramatic, but we are three months post-regular-naps… and I am okay. We are all okay. Even though we don’t get that regular 2 hour block every single day, we do still have “rest time” and though it’s abbreviated and not at all as regular, we do have some type of system.
Most importantly, when I stopped clenching my fists around this area of her life, I was able to have my eyes opened to what she really needed. More time. More time to be with me. More time to feel that one- on- one attention. More time to just be a big kid. She’s struggled a bit since going back to school, not with school itself but just being away. This has made that so much better.
Now every single afternoon, we put baby sister down for her nap and we spend time together. We play for a little while, or she helps me do things around the house. We always watch Pioneer Woman together. She has a snack and we watch the wonderful Ree cook something yummy. It’s in those moments, nearly every single day that she cuddles up next to me and says, “mommy, I LUD (love) you.” And then most days she says, “I love this big girl time.”
Over the course of the last few weeks, it has been quite clear to me that though naps are WONDERFUL and I wouldn’t mind a bit if she occasionally wanted one, she needed this more. What she needed was a mommy who wasn’t afraid of embracing her growing up. An imperfect mother who wasn’t afraid to open her white knuckled fists on one stage, in order to be able to grasp another, more fulfilling one of really relishing time with my big girl.
Sometimes we think we are holding onto something that we MUST have. And in all actuality, what we MUST have is a spirit of flexibility and optimism at the future. I wouldn’t have known this before, but my time of uninterrupted quiet was simply NOT worth more than the blessings of knowing she is being loved on in the way she needs.
God is good, all the time. And His grace sustains– certainly for the often stretched and slightly worn out mom.