As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I enjoy a special bond with my baby (who at 15 months old is actually more of a toddler these days).  He is really independent (as all my children have been, except my one girl which is kind of nice, and the subject for another note, another day!)  But occasionally, for reasons unbeknownst to me, he will display uncharacteristic neediness.  These moments are usually weeks, if not months apart, and often come at times when he would usually be sleeping, either in the night or during his daytime nap hour.  With each of the other kids, I remember these times of unexplained wakefulness to be particularly stressful, and I remember being not so patient with my children, who as yet were unable to communicate what was wrong and what they needed.

As I relive these moments for the fifth time around (I am a slow learner!) I am starting to realize that they probably just needed comfort.  I am saddened that it took me so long to be able to just give them what they needed as little babies selflessly, and am so grateful that God gives me another chance to get it right with Aaron.  Far from thinking, "oh no, he's awake..." I find myself almost celebrating these cherished times of extra comforting with a boy who will typically not willingly sit still with me for more than five seconds at a time.

Naptime in our house normally goes off without a hitch.  He loves sleeping, and doesn't take a bottle, so when the appropriate time rolls around it's generally just a matter of tucking him in and giving him his snuggly blanket, and he's a happy little boy.  Today he showed no signs of anything different, until about five minutes after I had left him in his room, when he began crying.  I sent Jeff, who was on his way to catch some shut-eye, in to snuggle him for a bit and tuck him in again, thinking this would do the trick.  Nope.  For the next hour we took turns rocking him, singing to him, keeping him in his room, bringing him out, putting him down to play, and feeding him - all to no avail.  Nothing seemed to make him happy.

I noticed in the midst of everything, a profound sense of grace and gentleness that I knew what not from myself.  And I was so thankful that as he squirmed on my lap and viciously fought what I knew he needed most, that I was able to remain calm and peaceful.  I regret the many times before that I have not been able to see as I was today.  I looked into his face, which was screaming with frustration and sleepiness, and I just felt an outpouring of love for this little child.  And it occured to me that babies are no different than anyone else - they are needy.  I am needy.  I have times when I cry for no reason, and I just need someone to hold me.  It doesn't matter that I don't know what's wrong with him, or what to do to make him feel better.  I can just hold him while he cries, for however long that is, and tell him I love him, and it's okay.  He needs me.  I need him.

As I look into his little face, I can imagine this scene repeating itself many more times over the course of his life, over situations of varying degrees of importance.  And I can only pray that the Lord allows me to look at him (and at my other children) in the same way that I see him now - with compassion and love, and a desire to just make him feel better.  

After a long afternoon of crying, my dear little boy finally settled himself to sleep on my chest.  These are among the greatest moments of motherhood for me - not the ones where I have taken a problem away, but the ones that I have stood through my children with, and helped to feel safe enough to rest.  To walk with them through despair to peace, and to see that they made it, we made it, and that we were never really alone.  

Praise God for moments of clarity, when we see life (and our place in life) for what it truly is.  If I can't stop their crying, may I always have the strenght to just be with them through it - never feeling that I am less of a mother for not being able to take it away, but rejoicing in the tremendous honor of offering comfort to someone who needs me.

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