My child does not sleep. He’s a sweet little 15-month-old who thinks sleeping through the night is for wimps. In fact, in his little mind, it’s not even necessary.
I have read every book, asked seasoned parents, and even thought about just letting him cry-it-out, alone in his room, but nothing seems to work. Our bedtime routine happens like this: Dinner time at 5:30, it’s usually something yummy like green beans with turkey or mashed potatoes with ham, followed by a tall glass of milk and maybe some yogurt for dessert. After filling his cute little tummy, it’s on to bath time where we sink a thousand rubber duckys into a pool of bubbles while dumping cups of water out of the tub onto the tile. Then it’s off to the nursery where we read “Goodnight Moon,” sing a special lullaby, and begin the rocking to sleep.
Now, all the parenting experts tell me that if I follow a steady routine, if we keep everything the same, then my little angel will slowly close his eyes and I’ll be able to lay him down in his crib, drowsy, but not asleep, and he will roll over and nod off on his own. From this point, I should expect him to sleep 10-12 hours while I go curl up on the couch with a good book and just relax.
What really happens? Well, I sit down in the rocking chair at about 6:30 (with hopes of drooping eyes by 7) and at first I enjoy the time together. I rock him and I whisper in his ear how much I love him. I pray over him and thank God for him and ask continuous blessings over his life. But then, 8:30 rolls around and I’m still rocking him … and I start to ask myself, what have I done wrong? He doesn’t really cry that much, he just stares up at me with those big blue eyes and I wonder … WILL THIS CHILD EVER FALL ASLEEP? I start to get impatient, I start to worry that he’s never going to sleep— Well, let’s be honest here — I get annoyed!
That’s right, I said it. I get annoyed at this sweet little angel who just stares at me, fighting sleep with every ounce of his small body, and I can tell he’s completely exhausted! Sleep is what he needs to do, but at this point he can’t figure out how to get it right. So, then I feel guilty. I think, how can I be mad at this kid? He’s not putting off sleep on purpose, it just not natural for him to fall asleep when there is so much around him to keep him distracted. The world is too exciting, and who wants to close their eyes when they think there might be something better out there than what Mommy has planned for the night! It’s at this point that I start to relax again and snuggle him close. And usually, just like that, he drifts off to sleep and I honestly feel like I could hold him forever.
What’s interesting is that now, as a parent, God is using my son to teach me about God’s love for me. God only wants one thing from me, for me to love God and to love others as I love myself. And I try. But the world, it’s out there … and there is so much to pull me away. So many things that I think is better than spending time with God, so much so that I don’t want to do what God has planned for me.
My God, my provider, makes sure I’m well-fed and taken care of … but still, there I am, starring back up at God, fighting mad, because things are not going the way that I want. At the end of the day I have failed at doing what God wants me to do. I’ve become exhausted by my sin, my fears, my doubts, and I don’t know how to get back to where I’m supposed to be.
But, God … he can’t be mad at me. God doesn’t leave me alone, or walk away and let me cry it out for a minute. He stays in the room, just like I do with my son. God rocks me slowly back and forth through the quiet words of scripture, sings me soft lullabies through songs that glorify his name, and reminds me, as I do my son, that I am loved. In the stillness, God lays me down carefully, as I do my dear Jude Wesley, and offers the weary … rest. And it’s in that quiet moment that I feel God release me from my sin, through grace, and I can finally relax. I can sleep … knowing that God will hold me forever.
* The photo above was taken when Jude was about 4 months old ... back when I dared sneak into his room when he was sleeping! : ) Here's a recent 15-Month-old photo of my wide-eyed boy!