Last night I yelled. I have before, too. That ugly, throaty, harsh tone that my husband had never heard before our sweet daughter came along.
But, last night, it was different. Only two words were emphasized in this animalistic timbre.
It echoed throughout the walls of my mind, before striking my heart with its icy selfishness.
We had tucked the babe tightly in her bed at 8:30. She flitted around upstairs for two more hours, wearing on my sanity. After many minor battles, she abruptly drifted off to sleep. Then it was my turn, so I climbed the stairs to bed and tucked myself in only to be woken up by her tiny voice about an hour and a half later.
“Can I come in your bed?”
Whatever! Whatever at this point. I trudged across the hall and unlatched her gate, urging her to follow me back to my bed. She stayed put. Yelling out to me, me -now snuggled back under my covers- yelling back to her.
Daddy stepped in to calm her down, but she would have none of it. All she longed for were the comforts of mama.
Now boiling, steaming, and calculating the sleep I was losing by the second, I stormed over to her bed, scooped her up, along with the thousand animals she cuddles with each night, and marched back to my room as I ugly-yelled, “I’m TIRED!”
I thought that she needed to know. I thought that someone needed to hear it in my voice just how tired I was. Tired of the back and forth. Tired from the day, now behind us. Tired from the past three years of waking up at least once a night.
Or maybe this grunt of exhaustion was spewed out because I just needed to validate my own feelings; it’s stupid-late o’clock and everyone should be asleep by now- aren’t I right about this?
My blood still bubbling, we settled down together into my bed. Her little voice whispered.
“Mommy, why you yell to me?”
“I don’t like you yelling because it makes me cry.”
“Please don’t do that next time, Mommy.”
Tears of my own begin streaming down. My heart ached for how much I love her. I called out silently to God: Then what, Lord? Do I just never sleep? There have to be boundaries, and consequences; she’s old enough to know that it is time for bed. I can’t stay awake like this and just keep talking, telling stories, signing, entertaining, can I?
Yes, you can.
That was the answer. Yes I can. Suddenly everything faded away for me. I saw clearly. My daughter is a gift to me. It is my job to take care of her. Suddenly I could see that sleep didn’t really matter, what time we woke up tomorrow, was no longer a worry.
I had all of these fears in my mind about what would happen if I did not sleep as fully as I could. Would we be able to check off all of the items on my list of chores and activities for tomorrow? Would we be happy with each other and not crabby from a night of wakefulness? Would we wake up early enough to get a nap in at the right time so that bedtime the next night could go smoothly? And the day after that? And the night after that? Looking back, and in my time in prayer, I discovered just how trivial they were.
But more so than that, in this messy, tear-stained jumble of mommy-guilt, God revealed my true need for a Savior. And just how special; how teachable, this ugly moment would become. No matter how much of me I give to my daughter, how diligent I am in serving her and caring for her, I will fail. Though heartbreaking, it is important that she knows this, too.
This lesson is almost unbearable to learn. It is humbling. Putting myself aside, and accepting that I am nothing-without Christ. Submitting to the Lord and asking Him to change my ways of thinking; to slow my responses; to stifle my anger, and fully admitting that I can not do it alone. Asking Him to show my daughter my heart and my intentions; to shield her ears and her delicate heart from the harshness of my yelling voice; to reveal to her that only with Jesus’ example of love, and earnest prayer and reflection can we be better to each other.
There will be days I am tired, days I am sick, days I am selfish, days I am lazy – the list goes on. These days I will drown in guilt knowing that I should have done better for my daughter. These days I will remember that with guilt, comes repentance and with that, redemption.
I am redeemed. Thank God. Redeemed.