I have yet to figure out what possesses my seven month old to wake up screaming in the early hours of the morning.  Dramatic screams of varying tone and intensity were mixed intermittently with purposeful pauses to see if we were paying him any attention. I was convinced the entire apartment complex would arrive at any moment to excommunicate us. Perhaps our neighbors below us may report us for torturing our kid. Perhaps they suffered from deafness secondary to the obscenely loud and repetitive baseline they listen to each weekend. One could only hope the latter were true. I suppose I should choose to be thankful for the rare moments of alone time it provides after he falls asleep again, leaving me quite awake, but sleeping through the night would be nice as well. Sweet boy has every ounce of his parents’ stubbornness combined, leaving this Mama equally amused and terrified by the developmental stages to come and our task to shepherd his cute, strong willed butt.

Really, less than a month ago I was gushing about his near perfection, completely aware that Ray and I had nothing to do with it. Then we learned some things. We learned electrical cords and outlets are baby sirens.  The blanket filled with scattered toys cannot contain our little explorer’s heart nor entertain his attention span.  He is a quick study of effective ways to get our attention, with his favorite choices being the defiant scream and the fake cough (always followed by a charming smile). The changing table cannot contain him, knocking things off of surfaces amuses him, Mama saying, “No” draws a humored grin, and at 4am when he is losing his ish all he wants to do is hold my hand. I am aware of my bias as his mother, but I am now more convinced than ever before that I am the parent of the cutest little sinner in the world.

It amazes me that no one taught Sam how to sin. He is inherently drawn to that which he cannot have, to that which is not safe for him to touch, and the boundaries that are established for his good are not always received well. He does not look up at me with those beautiful blue eyes and thank me when I redirect him or take something from him that is not for his good. He does not say, “Thanks Mom for saving me from electrocution.” or “Thanks Mom for not letting me eat that magazine I pulled off the coffee table.” Or “Thanks Mom for setting out all of these fun toys that are safe for me to play with.” Rather, he makes a beeline for that which is off-limits every time. He does not care that the entire house is trying to sleep, he wants to snuggle and he wants to snuggle now! {Honestly, I cannot help but laugh at the fact that my son’s temper tantrums are over wanting to snuggle. Seriously, how sweet is that? Sweet and twisty.} No one teaches them how to manipulate, or attempt to manipulate…no one teaches them how to sin.

I cannot help but think of the Father’s patient love for me as I attempt to patiently love Sam at the most ungodly hours of the day. Parenting has been flat out annoying at times; like this morning when my selfishness and Sam’s selfishness clashed before dawn. As I gave Sam a few minute intervals to see if he would choose to self-soothe, I did this with the knowledge that he knows how to soothe himself back to sleep and he is aware of our presence with him in a safe place. I was not withholding from him because I do not love him; I was attempting to serve him well in the long run by encouraging his confidence and independence. {Ask me how well that lesson went and who caved to whom first later!} As I nursed him after an hour long battle, I thought about all of the times that I have assumed God to be uncaring or unkind as He has not rescued me from my version of “baby jail” in the ways that I have wanted or preferred. In reality, He has never ceased to be present, caring, kind nor loving. There have been moments where I, too, in varying degrees, have cried and protested dramatically and persistently when God the Father has redirected me or removed some unsafe things from my life. Admittedly, the direction or the thing occupying my attention in those moments was unsafe, though I did not realize it at the time. Even as an adult, I confess I am not much more evolved than Sam in this area. How quickly I am to choose that which is neither good nor safe for me; to be drawn towards that which is not life-giving! How many times have I looked at the unholy, then looked knowingly at the Father, before crawling right back to that which he has set me free from?

As I grow in mothering Sam, I am learning to be parented by God the Father more readily. I need Him to shepherd me, instruct me, train me and stretch me for the sake of His glory, for the sake of my heart, and for the sake of my family. I need communion with the Father and fellowship with Jesus. I need to be reminded of God’s Father-heart towards me, of the presence of the Holy Spirit with me, and of the living Gospel of Christ at work within me. That God the Father does not grow weary with me is inspiration to parent Sam with renewed energy and further encouragement to draw near to the throne of grace in both repentance and anticipation.

Cheers to late nights, early mornings, and sufficient daily doses of grace.

-a

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