We've been working with Joel to fall asleep more easily and on his own. He does remarkably well and typically if left alone and not messed with, his eyes will grow heavy and he will fall asleep easily and happily on the floor, in his bouncy seat or his crib. In the beginning we were trying to get him solidly asleep in our arms after feeding and then transferring him to his crib or seat. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Sometimes he'd be like a bean-bag in your hands and go from the crook of your arm to his woodland animal crib sheet with no problem. Other times, his bright eyes would pop open to quiz you the second his sweet head touched the cool mattress.
But with him learning to calm himself and sleep on his own not only eases tension for Mommy who nearly rocked herself into oblivion trying to get Little Man to sleep, but it means Daddy also doesn't have to walk around the house fifty times before baby's eyes grow heavy and close and stay closed. But that doesn't mean we can just walk away. We have to be nearby. On call. Ready to rush in if the cries get too extreme, the tears too much for us to stand or simply be close enough to decipher if it's a sleepy cry, a mad cry, a hungry cry or a change my diaper right now before my brain explodes kind of cry.
Not only do we stand ready to rescue, but we stay close to soothe. Just now I got up because he wasn't calming down in his crib (and he's been in there for awhile) and so I pushed the pacifier between those sweet little lips and put my hand on his chest and patted gently. And as I did, I said softly, "It's okay, Joely-bean. Momma didn't leave you. Momma didn't leave you."
And he quieted.
And I thought... you know, none of us want to be alone. We want to know that someone is nearby in case we go missing or in case we can't stop crying. We want to know that no matter how independent, tough and trained we are, that someone is standing by in case it all gets to be too much. I immediately called to mind and heart Hebrews 13:5 (from the Amplified Bible):
"... and be satisfied with your present circumstances
and with what you have; for He, God Himself, has said,
'I will not in any way fail you nor give you up
nor leave you without support.
I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree
leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down.
Relax my hold on you? Assuredly not!'..."
And as I sit here in my kitchen, with my cinnamon raisin bread gone and my concoction of raspberry hot chocolate and a spoonful of instant coffee growing chilled, I am comforted by truth. That no matter how many times I pull myself out of bed to tend to a squirming, hungry or crying Joel, that I have not been forgotten. That even if I feel as though I fade in and out through my day without a shower or a desired nap, that I am still seen. That even when my husband kisses me goodbye and locks the door behind him on his way to work, that I am not alone. God remains nearby. He's ready to rush in. Ready to listen. Willing to comfort. Faithful to hold tight and in love with me so much that His hold will never weaken or falter or disappear.
My son is fighting his morning nap like a warrior this morning. It's only amusing to me because I have taken the time to see a little of Christ in my every day, simple, baggy t-shirt wearing life. And even more than that... but God has used my baby to remind me of not only who I am and who I need to be for Joel, but Who God is for me. Day after day.
As I went and scooped my not-sleepy-at-all son out of his crib and settled him in my arms, you know what he did? He got quiet. His eyes went from that worried, "Where have you been?!" stage to calm and bright and I was greeted with a few toothless smiles. I quieted my son with my love this morning. I brought him out to the main area of the house where I am, placed him in his bouncy seat and now? Now he is snoring. He just needed to know I hadn't left him. He just needed to be quieted by his mother's love.
Joel isn't the only one who has been loved and quieted this morning. I guess this tired, no-time-for-a-shower mommy needed that reminder today, too, just as much - if not more - than the contented baby sleeping peacefully, knowing he is loved and safe and that even if he can't always see mommy, that she really is not that far away at all...
"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."
~ Zephaniah 3:17