These weeks have been heavy, haven't they? There are real, seemingly unsolvable, gut-wrenching problems in the world. Of course I know that this is not that. I'll tell you what I tell them: Everything is fine. Everyone is fine-- more than fine. See that gorgeous boy over there? He is thriving. He brings us joy every time we look at him. We have what we need and then some and we are so grateful. But I am not fine and the thing I need the most no one can give me.
I'm being dramatic, right? Seven sleepless months will do that to you, I suppose. I need that blessed baby to sleep. I need assurance that nothing else is wrong with him. I need patience and stamina to deal with the middle of the night standing, the swaying, the singing of the same tired choruses, the frustration when I put him down only for him to sit up crying, making me start all over, the desperation over my inability to fall asleep since I don't know how long it will be before he cries again.
I need more than that, too, I guess. I need prayer. I need, as Moses did, someone to hold up my arms. I'm feeling weak; my spirit and back and hips and wrists ache. There are a handful of hymns and praise choruses I have sung to Deacon from the beginning that have calmed him and me. But my heart is weary and the words feel empty. I can't bring my lips to utter them with any conviction lately; I sing Dave Matthews (#41, in case you're curious) instead. I halfheartedly hum "You Are My Sunshine" to this child whom I love with my whole heart.
I am tired of being needy, but thankful for all we've been given: For my in-laws who have doted on my daughters in my absence (perceived and actual), who made it okay for me to take the baby and join Daniel on his work trip to the beach where I still didn't sleep but where I wandered and fussed over only one child and put my toes in the sand and spent precious moments in my most favorite place with my favorite person. For the stranger who held my baby while I ate my dinner (yep, I handed him off to a stranger) at the beach, who acknowledged and embodied the sisterhood of the mothers of littles (much to Daniel's shock). For the text from a new friend to check in, the hand across the table of another who told me it's okay not to be okay, it's normal to feel the way I do; it will pass. For the doctor who asked earnestly if lack of sleep is really all that's going on (I really do believe it is, but was so touched by his concern), for my dearest friend who called and sung the words to the song of my heart back to me. I needed it all.
Because this is not all there is. I am more than the sleep-deprived shell I've been feeling like. These small acts of love help me to feel seen; they remind me I really am doing the best I can as a friend and wife and mother, even though it's not enough. I I need to hear that those who love me will forgive me my ample shortcomings of late, and that no one will be worse for wear when it's over (because really, truly, one day it will be over). I need to hear that the frustration is understandable; that it doesn't negate any of the tremendous joy that is also part of my every day.
I'm ready to recognize the girl in the mirror. I'm having trouble seeing past the baby that is always in her arms, the circles under her bloodshot eyes, the flatness in her voice. I know she is a caring daughter and sister and a generous friend. I know she is a selfless and loving mother who delights in her children. I know she loves her husband fiercely. And I pray that those around me can hold on just a little longer, since my actions don't match those things I know, and since my new friends haven't known me long enough to see me any other way.
My prayers, once so gentle and earnest, then pleading and urgent, now sound hollow. It seems I feel them bounce off the ceiling and shatter against the nursery floor where I kneel. And yet I know that not to be true. I know I am to be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and petition present my requests to God (Philippians 4:6). I know that when I ask anything according to his will, he hears me (1 John 5:14). I know he will withhold no good thing from those who love him (Psalm 84:11); I know I can trust him with my cares because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). Even in the exhausted moments when I feel forgotten, I know God will strengthen and help me; I know he will uphold me with his righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Months ago I promised our daughters chocolate cake for breakfast the first night Deacon slept through the night. Dutifully those girls have prayed each day for sleep for us all.
I go through the motions with my body while my spirit longs for rest. I cling to these things I know when my heart can't feel them. One day I will sleep, and those sweet girls will get their chocolate cake.