My sweet baby is a happy little boy. He is quick to smile, eats well, and is easily entertained. He only has one request in life, and that is predictability. Unlike my middle two, who were fairly flexible and would nap in a sling most anywhere, this little boy craves routine. He wants to sleep - every day, in his bed, at the same time, no matter what. Unfortunately, he was born into a year of upheaval in our family, and this year has been less predictable than any of my other children's first years. In the first six months of his life my baby boy has slept in nine different places. This past weekend we rearranged the house, and his "nursery" is now in the laundry room. Which may be a step up from his previous "nursery," which was in the master closet. I feel certain that if I could provide the predictability he clearly needs, he would probably rest as readily as he eats and smiles. As it is, my baby is not the best sleeper.
In fact, he's pretty terrible at it.
His sleep was at its worst in the month following our cross-country move. He woke up every two hours, every single night, for weeks. I spent a lot of energy trying, in vain, to fix the problem. Looking back, I think he just needed reassurance. Nothing in his little world was the same, and he needed my presence to regain his equilibrium. After moving into his new "room" over the weekend, he has started doing this again. Every two hours he wakes up wailing, asking, through his limited means, for comfort and reassurance. A few months ago I would hear that cry and sigh, frustrated. Now that I finally recognize the pattern and understand what he really needs, I am working toward receiving him with a little more openness and grace. As I rocked my baby boy back to sleep last night at 9 pm, then 11, then 12:30, I thought, yes, baby boy, I will be your comfort. You can rest on me. I know your little world is different, but we are still here together.
Even in the middle of the night, I don't want to approach my baby with sullenness. I do not want to respond to his need for reassurance with frustration or resignation. As I held him last night, I thought about how grateful I am that God receives my need, my cries for reassurance, with more grace than I have often received my son's night time tears. David often refers to hiding under God's wing for comfort and protection. Jesus, too, said that He longed to gather Jerusalem's children together under His wing, as a mother hen would gather her chicks. The image is one of being drawn in, comforted, nurtured. When my life is most unpredictable, I look for this nurturing, comforting presence too. I love my son deeply, but my actions are often colored by my own need and limited understanding. God's love for me is not effected by such things. Within that love, my baby boy and I together can find grace, and rest.
Thanks be to God.