I wake up to crying, and notice the first rays of sun beginning to glow outside. Groggily pulling the sick infant from her bed, I count in my head how many times I’ve done this since I first laid down- five? I’ve lost count. Expertly, I change a dirty diaper in the dark and remind myself to write the FBI/CIA/Ninjas to encourage them to add this to their training regimen. I administer medication, and climb back into the bed in her room to nurse. Wash, rinse, repeat…
I tromp down the stairs, baby and toddler in tow, sun peeking only slightly more through the windows. Later, climbing into the lukewarm shower and glowering in self-pity, I think, “If my children were as neglected as I feel right now, someone would go to prison. Ahhh, prison, I wonder what it would take to get just a few days in solitary confinement…But then again, prison is also where you don’t get to sleep, eat, shower, or go to the bathroom alone. Oh, wait…” Queue another wave of self-pity.
Then I am out of the shower, dry but not dressed, bathing the crying baby, and pointedly avoiding contact with my spouse. Amidst the self-imposed gloom, my husband leaves for work with hardly a word because on mornings like this we have an ongoing, but unspoken war as to whose job sucks more. And we are both first-borns, so we hate to lose.
My 4 year-old sweetly asks what kind of clothes I would like to wear today, obviously creeped out that I have yet to put any on, and I say, “pajamas.”
I cried on New Years as my husband and I discussed what we hope for this coming year because all I could think was, “I just want to not be tired anymore.” All other goals seemed to fade into the grey of my utter exhaustion. “I just want to find joy in caring for my children again.”
There is ministry to be found in the mundane. Jesus is not absent from these hard mornings. He sprinkles joy around like random candy canes on a Where’s Waldo page, just little glimpses to give you momentum. But these little treasures are only extracted with the persistent and purposeful eye of thankfulness. Not ‘find-the-silver-lining’ peppiness, but the hard, gut-felt, thank you for the simple fact that he is Jehovah El-Roi, the God Who Sees me, and that I am only a sighed prayer away from His embrace.
When I said that I wanted to find joy again this year I did not know that I would be spending that night, and several following, caring for two sick babies. I did not know that the depth of my exhaustion would grow exponentially. Nor did I realize then that this illness would be just what the Doctor had ordered for my weary, apathetic heart. Through endless midnight snuggles and kisses and rocking, Jesus rekindled in me what it is that makes me love being a mom. He has reminded me of the fulfillment I receive when I set myself aside. Through his gentle shepherding he restores the joy that is only found in His strength, and that graciously needs nothing from me to get there.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
Today, I will be joyful in the fact that it is HIS gentleness that makes me a great mom…because goodness knows I would be hiding in a closet (probably still nude) with a sleeve of Oreos and a set of ear plugs, without Him.