So, two mornings ago, little man woke up ready for the day (it was still dark out, which means Mommy was less ready for the day). As is our typical routine, I put him in bed with me while Daddy got ready for work. In our room we have a slightly goofy, trailer-esque fiber-optic tree that Aaron bought for me when we were dating. I thought, "I'll go plug it in! Joel will be fascinated with the colors as we lay here in the dark."
Can you see where this is leading?
I hopped out of bed to plug in the tree (which is on top of my dresser, right next to the bed) and as I was fumbling around in the dark, trying to find the electrical socket, I hear the most sickening *thud* at my feet.... and then a terrible wail. My son had decided to crawl towards me and, not having a concept of the bed beneath his hands ending, crawled right off the edge and fell a couple feet+ (our bed is unusually tall). I wanted to puke all over myself and very nearly did.
Joel calmed after about five minutes and went back to his MO: smiling. So, that was relieving but I still felt like the
worst mother on the face of the planet. And I knew that when my husband got out of the shower, I'd have to explain the huge thud that he had heard (he had called out from the shower; it felt like it shook the entire house). I was beyond sick to my stomach and equally sick at heart. What would he say? Would he reiterate all the times he had cautioned me about putting him on the bed? In my head I was busy tearing myself up one side and down the other. I didn't need anyone to reprimand me or make me feel bad, I was doing an excellent job all by myself.
As the day wore on and as a fierce red blush began to creep up one side of my son's face and around his eye - I couldn't stop mentally ambushing myself. The recurring conclusion of every lashing was, "I shouldn't be a mother." That's all I could think, over and over. Joel would be better off with someone else. Anyone else. I was not equipped, I wasn't smart enough, careful enough, attentive enough,.... basically not enough of anything that a child, my child, could possibly require and need. I mean, wasn't it obvious?! I had allowed him to step off a cliff into absolute darkness! Gratefully no harm came to him, but still. It never should have happened in the first place. I was destroyed. I felt I had been "weighed, measured and found wanting".
In the midst of the day, as I relived the morning's events, my mind kept centering around a devotional I had read a few weeks ago. It was from Swindoll's "Morning and Evening" book (evening entry for November 11th for those curious) and I kept thinking of these words:
"Remember this: if any other condition
had been better for you than the one you
are in, divine love would have put you there.
You have been placed by God in the most
suitable circumstances... Be content with
what you have, since the Lord has ordered
all things for your good. Take up your daily
cross. It is the burden best suited for your
shoulder, and will prove most effective in
making you perfect "in every good word
and work" (2 Thessalonians 2:17), to the
glory of God. Down, meddlesome self
and proud impatience! It is not for you,
but only for the Lord of Love, to choose!"
In hard times, in good times: it is the best situation for me to be in to learn, to grow, to be taught. I am the best woman to be Joel's mother: that is why I am Joel's mother. For this child, we have been chosen to be his parents - not just for our benefit and blessing, but for his, too. When I'm feeding him breakfast and staring at an angry red mark around his eye, it's hard to believe that I am what is best for him. That someone more careful, more aware wouldn't do a better job.
But not only am I meant to be Joel's mommy for him, I am also Joel's mommy for me. There is something in mothering that God is and will teach me. There will be, I suspect, many, many lessons down the road. Many moments for me to die to myself, to learn to love unconditionally, to exhibit God's grace and forgiveness as I extend mercy and kiss bumps and buy Transformer BandAids. "All things work together for the good of those who love Him." is one of God's many promises in His Word (ref: Romans 8:28).
Perhaps the tumbling-off-the-bed lesson, for me, is not only about being more aware of my son's abilities and antics (I think every mother is aware that something could happen, but we are frequent sayers of, "Oh, he/she is fine!" and going about normal business until something accidental and scary occurs.) but to make me see that in the hard times, those are times God has allowed, in His wisdom, to teach and train me. To make me better, not just for my little boy, but for my great God.
Last night, I thought of this "I am in the perfect place for me" as I was trying to keep my patience while Joel fought bedtime. He typically goes down without a fuss, so when he is contrary, it's tough sometimes to remain calm, because he "knows" how to sleep and what is required. And he's just fighting it, for whatever reason. But last night, as I made multiple trips into his room to tuck him back in (he likes to crawl around the crib, beat the railings with his pacifier, pull himself up and bounce around, etc.) I had to smile. I rubbed his back, smoothed his hair, told him, "You're okay. Mommy is right here. Go night, night, buddy." I had to breathe easier and soften a little, because you know, maybe this is how I'm finally going to whip my selfish nature into shape. Maybe this is how I'm going to make some head-way in the self-control department. Maybe this is how I will finally learn to exhibit more patience.
Parenting is, in many ways, like those early days of marriage. When you come home and the honeymoon is over and you realize your amazing hunka-hunka-burnin'-love does things differently that you do - than you prefer. You put the glasses rim-down in the cabinet, he insists they sit rim-up. You throw laundry immediately in the basket, he leaves his socks wadded up inside his pants. And not only do you find out how real your spouse is, you find how incredibly selfish you are. How set in your ways. And you have to compromise. You have to decide which things are worth fighting for and over and which things aren't.
It's the same with mothering. I am finding, all over again, just how faulty and selfish I really am. How much farther I have to go in the holiness and perfecting departments. It can be daunting. Overwhelming. Too much. And I can feel completely inadequate and hopeless if I focus on how to fix things and "do better" on my own. It's just train-wreck after falling-off-the-bed train-wreck when I try to mold myself into a better myself.
So, I'm trying to remind myself on those days when everything goes wrong, and sometimes especially on the days when everything goes right, that I am where I am because God is sovereign. Because God is all-knowing and wise, He knows what is best for me. The Bible says that parents know how to give good gifts to their children (and desire to!)... and to think how much more our Heavenly Father desires to give us good things, too. Even in the seemingly less than ideal times, they are what is best - in the long-run - for us. No kid wants to be given a Savings Bond for Christmas.... but down the road, it'll be a blessing. It'll prove to be an investment, a benefit for future life.
In the small, in the mundane, in the difficult, in the sickening falls - God is still God and He desires what is best for us. He doesn't stop being God just because a mother turns her back for a second and a baby bumps his head. He doesn't stop being God when the days are long and the baby won't go to sleep. He doesn't stop being God on the days when more coffee just doesn't do the trick.
He's always God. And He knows - with every fiber of a loving, amazing, gracious parent - what situation is the safest, the best and the most beneficial for us. He won't let us continue to fall and bonk our heads. There's lessons to be learned, definitely... but there are many, many gifts under this Father's Christmas tree.... all day, every day.
We have hard times - and good times - because we are so, so loved.
"Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is
diligent to discipline him."
~ Proverbs 13:24, ESV