Welcome to an evening on the front line of my life at present. Here is how it all goes down.
First, divide and conquer with my hubby to get two little ones to bed, both of them hopefully asleep by 7:30 PM. Then, start the second shift of the same professional day job, this time in the uniform of pajamas. After some hours, sign off and head to bed at late-thirty, with a devotion and prayers to fall asleep.
And shortly thereafter… cue the raspberry blower next to me. Along with the slurping as she eats her own hands. And the calls of what sounds like a stray cat.
For the sake of decorum, let’s focus on the raspberries.
My almost 5-month old daughter is fascinated with making noises and bubbles by blowing air while her tongue is out – the so-called raspberries. (For those who have learned English as a second language, I apologize on behalf of all native speakers for our calling it that. It’s confusing, I know.) She presently likes to wake up and commence an overnight-raspberry concert through which it is impossible to sleep.
The routine then continues as I sneak into my toddler son’s room to borrow his turtle that projects stars through its back and onto the ceiling. This is the same turtle he took to his room the previous day while grousing, “This is mine!” Yes, we are working on sharing. No, we don’t have it down – not even close.
The turtle’s stars have a modest success rate at distracting the raspberry blower from her art. They are successful enough that it continues to be worth the try, though they are far from being a surefire sound stopper.
And so goes the afterparty to the day. And so begins the window of time in which my head and heart are perhaps most frenetically active to process, sort and record the essence of this chapter. It’s as if an emotional virus scanner kicks in and, one by one, files are held up for review. And I have to choose to seal the lesson at hand or blitz on by.
The Bible talks about our life as merely a vapor or mist, a shadow. If the whole of a person’s life is but that, then how do you begin to characterize this ever-so-brief stage of my baby’s discovery? The raspberry-blowing stage. It is something so fleeting, that within the whole of a mist or shadow it is easily swallowed.
If I listen to myself, the midnight raspberries could drive me crazy. The hour(s)-plus show and lost sleep it invites could force me to the edge. This might be part of that less-than-ten percent of motherhood that, if I am honest, can lead me to miss the selfish freedom I enjoyed up until a couple years ago. After all, just because you fully embrace a new chapter doesn’t mean you can’t at times mourn one that’s closed; the two activities are not mutually exclusive.
But if I prayerfully pause to listen to the supernatural whispers to my soul, I am gifted perspective. Somehow in this whirlwind of craziness called mothering two littles while working, God can and does gift a different way of seeing things. I call it a gift, because it is truly that. It certainly doesn’t come from within me; it is placed within me from outside. Instead of collapsing under the weight of no sleep and frustration for lack of personal space, if I tune in closely, God enables a divine sense of the place in time for this most important responsibility.
Sleepless nights aren’t forever. As a friend reminded me the other night while we surveyed our four children aged three and under, “We can sleep when we’re dead.” Yes, there’s always that.
That gift of divine perspective tells me sleepless nights aren’t forever, but what priority of love and purpose I put into my family now is. It has eternal payoff. Middle-of-the-night prayers might be the most important thing I do as a mom, the thing that can redeem my present and future failures. And deciding to maintain a heart of joy for this journey, even in the wee hours, might be a close second.
Plus, there is always the reminder of the stories of beautiful women the world over who can no longer wake to a non-slumber party with their babies for whatever reason of harsh reality. Or the women who have amazing mothers’ hearts but who don’t yet have their own child. Out of utmost respect for and in solidarity to them, I resolve to not take for granted what opportunity God has outrageously chosen to give me in this moment.
So I grab onto the belief that this is a most sacred season. And I know I find God best when I lean and live into the terms of the season he puts before me. This has happened before in more than one chapter of my life. If I am willing to let go of expectation and convenience and comfort and if I am willing to surrender to something new and raw, that is where transformation happens. Of me and my self-centered heart. In that sense, this life season is about the nurture of my babies with the hope that I will grow. The story that is being written is as much about what God wants to sow into me as it is about what I am challenged to build into them.
Therefore, during this night’s concert, I will choose with great joy to reach over to stroke her cheek, hold her hand, watch the stars, and craft in my head the words to capture this heart moment in a way a picture can’t. Then I will pray and thank God from my deepest recesses for this flash of raspberries in the mist that is my life.