Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sleep


I am one of those people who requires a lot of sleep to function well. Send me to bed at 10 p.m. each night and I'll roll out of bed at 7 a.m. still yawning and needing coffee. I have no idea how I ever made it through parenting 4 newborns in under 5 years and managed to stay sane.


My husband, Curt, on the other hand, is one of those crazy people who loves mornings and rolls out of bed at 5:30 every day with a smile on his face and a ridiculously sunny disposition. He can function well on 4 or 5 hours of a sleep a night for weeks on end before he crashes from exhaustion.


When we started our family, we developed a kid-duty system that works great for our sleep patterns. I take the middle of the night shifts and he takes anything after 5 a.m. When our kids were younger and were frequently up at night, I was on auto-pilot and didn’t really mind interrupted sleep or the time alone with my babies during the night. However, now that our kids sleep through the night consistently, I find myself feeling irritated if they happen to wake up and my only focus is to get them sleeping again as soon as possible so I can escape to my comfy bed.


Our 4-year old daughter Alli is practically invincible. She is tough as nails and it takes a monster sickness to get her down. She recently came down with a swimmers ear infection and we couldn't believe how quickly she deteriorated. She was miserable - lethargic during the day, waking at night and clearly in a lot of pain. It was brutal.


The first night she woke up, I immediately slipped into irritation mode and tried to soothe her quickly so I could get back to bed. She was so miserable though that every time I would try to sneak out of her room, she'd start crying, grab my arm, and pull me next to her again. God had to practically smack me over the head with a 2X4 to shift my focus from my selfish agenda to the power of love available in that moment. My irritation dissolved into compassion and I was amazed at how instantaneously there was no place in the world I'd rather be than wide-awake in the middle of the night, comforting my daughter and wishing I could take her place.

We curled into a little ball on her twin bed, her body warming mine, and I felt her start to relax as I tickle-scratched her arm and stroked her hair. My emotions and feelings were on hyper-drive and I seemed to be soaking in every minute detail of our intimate time together. I listened to the music of the bullfrogs singing from the koi pond across the street and the wind whispering in the trees. I felt her little chest rise and fall as her breathing slowed to a rhythmic cadence and she slipped into a peaceful, deep sleep. And then I heard God whisper to my soul, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13)

Long after Alli fell asleep, I stayed. Smashed against the wall, my adult-sized arm intertwined with 4-year old fingers, and I marveled. That a Creator existed who could craft such a magnificent and breath-taking creature. That a Father-God existed who knew my name, my heart-ache, my pain, and who gently curls up next to me, tickle-scratching my arm and stroking my hair until comfort comes and I slip into peaceful rest.


I was a little groggy the next morning, but the sleep hangover was worth falling in love all over again, with my daughter and with God.

1 comment: