I cried because I was so beautiful–a rant.

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about, nothing new to parents of a little girl: Do I tell my daughter that she’s beautiful?  Immediately, my gut response is “You betcha!  Absolutely!”

Start now and never stop.  Tell her through those awkward pre-teen years.  Tell her during the difficult teen years.  Tell her when she starts dating and gets stood up for the first time.  Tell her when she realizes her “first love” was a d-bag.  Tell her when she gets married and is walking down the aisle.  Tell her when she feels like a whale pregnant with her first child.  Tell her.  And, then tell her some more.

Does that make me a bad mother?

I want my girls to feel beautiful.  Are they going to feel beautiful just because I say so?  No.  I realize that there’s much more to it than that…

Comments on appearance is such an icky topic.  It always brings up weird stuff in people.  For me, it brings up the wicked teenage years when I lost over 30 pounds at the vulnerable age of 16.  I got comments on my physical appearance for the first time in my life.  It was off-putting.  It was always the same people over and over, too.  I just got tired of it.  Talk about something else!  And, some people, honestly, I didn’t believe.  Like, once I got the strangest compliment from a gorgeous and popular, thin girl in my high school.  (I think she was dating the quarter back at the time.)  She actually told me, in line at the cafeteria in front of God and everybody, that she thought I had a great butt.  Maybe, I’m just not “girly” enough, I don’t know how girls talk to each other, but this was weird… right?  I had such a horrible self-image, and all of these comments made me more obsessed with my appearance and more obsessed with keeping my body a certain size and shape.

What is the message that my daughter is getting when I tell her she is beautiful?  There’s a difference in my story.  No one told me I was “beautiful.”  Well, at least that’s the difference that I see.  People were commenting on my new thin body, on new muscle tone, downed pant sizes and tight buns, apparently…  But, none of my peers, or teachers or friends ever said, “You are beautiful.”  The only ones that ever did were boys…  and those I clung to like a starving tick behind your dog’s left ear.  I fully invested myself in these relationships because I didn’t have enough self-esteem to believe it myself.  When I put on make-up and voraciously fixed my hair, it was to do just that: “fix” myself.  When I dressed up, I never thought I looked good, I always hated the first 10 things I put on and settled with number 11.  (That’s all normal teenage stuff, right?)

There was a definite shift in my thinking when I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I felt the undeniable feminine beauty of housing and growing a child.  I was becoming a mother and knew that this was beauty that could neither be denied nor taken away.  Becoming a mother is a lot like being a child of the King, my relationship with God can’t be taken from me.  It is.  And He is mine.  And, it is beautiful.  So it is with being a mom.  The God-given gift of carrying a child in your womb is one of the most inherently beautiful miracles of the world….

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  When I stepped on the scales at the labor/delivery ward to be induced on that fateful day 3 years ago, the number jumped passed two bills…. And, I knew it would… Did it sting?  Sure, how couldn’t it?  Did I feel beautiful?  Yah, I did.  A mighty beautiful and swollen, pregnant mama carrying within her the mostly beautiful baby girl her eyes had yet to see.  This began a beauty revolution in which I wanted my girls to know that they’re beautiful–that they are God-made and He said “It is good.”

Let me tell you where my thoughts are coming from.  As you can imagine, my little 3-year old is a parrot.  A parrot and a mirror.  She repeats everything she hears.  She takes it on.  The most hilarious thing that she says is a quote from a book that I am not recommending… maybe, you’ve heard of it: Pinkalicious.  It’s a bit of a sensation, I think… Oh, what a book.  We’ve read it 18,000 times.  We’ve nearly worn the jacket right off that library book.  We’ve had it for well over a month and read it more than once a day sometimes… Shew.  I like to hide it sometimes.  Anyway, in case you haven’t read it, it’s about a girl who turns pink from eating too many pink cupcakes.  This is what she says about being her favorite color, “I cried because I was so beautiful!”

So, out of nowhere, I will hear Sophia say this.  She often hollers it out throughout the house.  It’s quite hilarious because she’s quoting a very funny moment in a book.  But, I also here her calling out things like, “I’m pret-ty!  I’m pret-ty!”  She also told me in the library a few days ago about “the most beautiful little girl in the purple sweater.”  It’s sinking in.  She’s commenting on other kids…

Here’s why I don’t think it’s so bad.  I’m a thoughtful person.  I know that beauty is not just what I see with my eyes when I look at my daughters.  I know that it’s also about what I know about them, about who they are.  It’s also about what I feel about them because I know them.  It’s about who they are and who they will become.

The problem is that my girls really are physically beautiful.  (Is that a problem?)  Well, they get comments all the time.  Abby’s red hair is a magnet for all gushy,over-talkative,pseudo-aunties.  Often during said gush session, Sophia will yell out, “My hair’s beautiful, too!”  Or, “I’m pretty, too!”  Just yesterday a man on the square told us that our girls looked like they came out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Nice.  Lovely.  Yes.  I eat it up… But, what are these messages sending them?   Will they stop?  And, what happens when they do?  When they go through those awkward years of 11-14?  I’ll still be telling them how beautiful they are.  Will they believe it?  And, what about when they’re 16, 17.  Will they believe it or will they look for boys to tell them that?  And what about sibling rivalry?  I didn’t have a sister, but I’ve seen enough made-for-TV movies to fear what jealousy may exist between the two of them…

I’ve read all this stuff like “When you tell your daughter she’s beautiful, make sure you say ‘inner beauty.'”  Or, flat out, “Don’t tell your daughter she’s beautiful.  Tell her she’s smart, she works hard, she’s good at ________.”  Or, “If you do tell her she’s beautiful, be sure to greater emphasize her other characteristics.”  What the #@#!#%$!  Besides this being totally confusing, I want her to know she’s beautiful!  Is that so bad?  I want her to know that I think she’s beautiful!  I also want her to know that she’s smart…  and strong… and kind… and loving… and nurturing… and independent…and interesting… and worth knowing… . I also want her to know that she’s loved… and adored… and cherished… and enjoyed… and loved by the King…  I want her to know that the Father thinks she’s beautiful.

It’s like beauty is this thing that some people have and some people don’t.  That’s just not true in the eyes of the Father.  That’s because the Father truly sees.  He truly sees the whole person, the whole forgiven beauty that is His child.  I want to love like He does. I want to foster that in my girls.

But, how do I do that?  How do I navigate the ugly stigma that is attached to “beauty”?  I don’t want to tack on “inner beauty” to every compliment like some caveat or some over-used cliche that my girls will need therapy for. I can’t (won’t) keep my girls out of our culture.  At the same time, I don’t want my girls to be obsessed with their physical appearance, worried that they have to look just so or worried about when it will fade.

That’s what they say, right?  “Beauty fades.”  May I respectfully say, “Bull $#*@!”  My grandmother was the most beautiful woman I can remember in ALL OF THE WORLD!  Not a touch of work done.  White as a ghost and very overweight in her old age.  But, skin as soft as silk and a heart of pure gold.  An absolute gem of God’s pure light.  And, her husband loved her boundlessly, with a lifetime of faithfulness to prove it.

What can I do other than thoughtfully parent every age, hoping to nurture my girls into strong, beautiful women. Beautiful women who know who they are, know they are loved by me and loved by God.  What else can I hope for?  Does telling them they are beautiful sabotage that?

I don’t think so.  What do you think?

Ultimately, my daughters will have to navigate within themselves a feeling of beauty–of inner beauty, of outer beauty… everything.  They’ll have to navigate within themselves every kind of self-feeling.  I’ll nurture what I can.  But, I want my daughters to know that I think they’re beautiful.

Responding in grace

Something happened today.  Something that got me thinking.  I was sitting in the floor of my bedroom, trying to put my socks on.  We were getting ready to head out to story time.  Sophia and Abby are playing, of course, while I’m trying to get us all ready.  Sophia put a beaded necklace around my neck, and then started pulling on it and saying that I was her pet frog.  She pulled harder and harder.  I told her not to pull on the necklace.  She pulled harder and harder.  I braced myself so that she wouldn’t pull me over.  The necklace popped. Beads flooded the floor.  She was shocked.

Before I could say anything.  She said, “I’m sorry, Mommy…” She smiled, “I’m so sorry.”

It stopped me dead in my tracks.  I was ready on my heels to bark, “See!  I said stop.  YOU broke it.  Why do you not listen to me?  I told you it would break…”

Instead, I paused.  I looked at her.  I said, “Thank you for saying you’re sorry.  That was an accident, huh?”

Did I let her off easy?  That’s the first time she has ever said, “I’m sorry” without being asked.  It was growth for her.  It was big girl.  It was growth for me, too…. because I wanted to yell at her.  I wanted to be mad that she, not only interrupted my efforts to get dressed, but also broke something in the process because she wasn’t listening. I wanted to be mad at her and show her what happens when she doesn’t listen to me.

But, she will learn that necklaces will break when you pull on them too hard… and she will learn that when they’re broken you can’t play with them anymore.   She will learn that without me yelling at her.  She will learn it for herself.  She will learn it, rather than me forcing her to learn it.  What is she really learning when I yell at her and lecture her?  Careful around Mommy.  One mistake and she’ll snap.

I hate when I get so angry around my kids.  I hate that nothing can set off my temper worse than they can.  I see that it’s my thorn.  It is my every day struggle.  Many days have gone by lately that I haven’t really gotten angry.  I’ve responded with grace to the most outright disobedience with a calm punishment of time-out.  I’ve even calmly given 2, 3 minute time-outs in 7 minutes.  Some days I’m just on.  And, some days I want to lock my kids in their rooms and yell a 5 minute lecture.  I’ve personally decided that I will not spank anymore because I am not able to spank with a clear conscience.  I am angry, and I spank out of anger.

The thing is that my girls are wonderful. They’re loving and sweet, and they want to be sweet so badly.  I have seen my eldest growing up more and more everyday.  She’s starting to take her big sister role more seriously.  She helps me keep Abby away from the oven, and grabs her around the waist when she’s trying to go out the door at a store.  She is listening better, even pointing out when Abby doesn’t listen.  She wants to hold my hand in the parking lots and stores.  She’s learning to control her impulses, too, like the one that says, “Abby has my toy and I want it now.”  I see her look with desire, start to grab, and control herself.

I also see her testing the limits with the most incredible sophistication.  Just this morning, for example: I told her that I would take away what she was playing with if she didn’t play with it the  way she was supposed to.  She backed away from me with the toy, heading downstairs, and said, “Don’t worry about me, Mommy.  Just don’t worry about me.” She’s beginning to understand that I can’t see everything. She’s experimenting with all forms of deception, even lying.  She’s not even 3, yet.  You can imagine that this could spark a short-tempered mommy to react undesirably…

Responding with grace is SO difficult.  It’s a practice.  It’s a choice that has to be practiced, again and again.  I can respond in grace, though.  I can apply consequences with a gracious heart.  I can teach obedience without demanding it. It’s more effective.  My daughter responds better.  We can move on without the guilt and shame of a yelling match.

I’m so glad that my God loves me better than I love my kids.  I’m so glad that he continually responds to me with grace.  This morning when Sophia said, “I’m sorry,” it was if God spoke to me.  It was as if he whispered, “Listen to the little child.  Respond to her as I respond to you.”

Confessions of an emotional eater.

Emotional Eating.  So many of us do it, right?  In fact, who doesn’t?

4:00 in the afternoon.  I’m sitting with Abby.  She’s having a snack.  I’m sitting with her silently worrying about something I cannot control.  I’m carrying the burden for a loved one.  I can’t take away this loved one’s pain.  I can’t magically make things right.  I can’t give my loved one a do-over.  I can’t make everything right and happy.  I can’t do anything.

I decide to pour myself a bowl of cereal, I didn’t eat much lunch… I’m thinking about how nice it is to have a baby.  No judgement.  She isn’t judging my bowl of cereal at 4 in the afternoon.  She’s actually excited about it.  I share some with her.  I’m not really enjoying this bowl of cereal. I continue with my worrying.  Now, I pour myself a second bowl.

Waaaait a minute.  I’m not even hungry.

Abby’s still not judging me.  I reach into the cabinet and get Sophia’s leftover Cheetos.  I share some with Abby. If Sophia woke up from nap right now, she wouldn’t judge me either.  She would just join me, thinking we were having a party.  Isn’t it nice being alone with the kids?  I can do whatever I want… and, no one will judge me.

Except for there’s this tiny fact that I’m teaching my children with my actions.  I’m teaching them to reach for food to comfort them when they’re worried.  I’m teaching them that eating is a good way to try to make yourself feel better.

Dammit.

I roll the Cheetos back up and put them in the cabinet before Sophia wakes up. I know I don’t need to go hide away in a closet to “emotionally eat” in order that they won’t see me…  That’s hardly satisfying… and I’m not THAT kind of emotional eater.  I’m just a normal emotional eater.  I eat when I’m worried.  I eat when I’m bored.  I eat when I’m lonely.

My babies are always eating. ALWAYS.  It’s so hard to tell when they’re actually hungry or just bored or just wanting comfort.  Sometimes Abby rolls all over the floor crying with one hand in her mouth because she’s SO hungry.  Sophia will eat 3 breakfasts for an average person and turn around and ask for a snack not 2 hours later.  I’ve been constantly saying “yes” lately.  Ya know, “choose my battles.”  Keep them happy so that when I really have a point to make it will be heard.  Help Abby sleep all night. (Overfeeding her at dinner really helps with that.)  I keep limitless snacks in my diaper bag for outings.  But now, outings are turning into a 24/7 snackfest.  Right when we get in the car, the kids are jonesing for the next carb load.  Abby’s hollering, pointing to the floorboard at the empty containers, and Sophia’s hollering about wanting candy.   I’m rewarding with food.  I’m pacifying with food.  I’m stuffing, stuffing, stuffing.

My girls don’t have a weight problem.  They’re babies.  They’re perfect sizes.  Sophia eats pretty well.  She eats some vegetables.  She eats fruit like candy.  But, when I tell her it’s time for lunch, sometimes she’ll yell at me: “I DON’T WAAAAANT LUNCH! I want a SNACK!!!!”  Hmmm.  She seems to know the difference.  And, Abby… well…  she’s had a hard life.  And, I’m coming to terms with the fact that re-training her spoiled little brain is going to be difficult.  And as soon as I feel a little less pity for her, I’ll give in less and stop giving her animal crackers for dinner…

Shew.  I’m being hard on myself.  I realize this.

I’m not, though. I realize what’s going on.  I’m aware of my personal struggles with food.  I understand the potential problems that my daughters will face.  I realize that my children are little imitators.  I realize that (almost) every drop of food that goes into their bodies is food that I’ve paid for and chosen for them to consume.  I AM responsible.

There’s a bigger issue here.  Food.  This is no new issue to our culture.  As a society we struggle with emotional eating, with feeding our emptiness and our anxieties and our multiphrenia with something sweet, salty, oily and quick.  The bigger issue isn’t food, though, it’s the hunger that we’re feeding.  And, the food that we’re feeding that hunger isn’t going to make us ULTIMATELY satisfied.  We may be satisfied for a few moments, an hour if we’re lucky.  But, ultimately that snack, those Cheetos, wasn’t what my body craved.  It craved a meal. Not an actual meal, but a metaphorical one.  In this case I needed to lean on the Father.  I needed to trust Him that my friend would be okay.  That, though I couldn’t take care of my friend, I could trust that He will.  And, I can trust that He will take care of my friend in just the way that He sees best.

I want to teach my daughters to lean on the Father.  I want to teach them to lean on Him for comfort.  To trust Him through difficult times.  I’m not sure I know how to do that.  But, I do know that thoughtlessly stuffing my worries with food is no shining example.

To shelter or expose: A rant on children’s literature.

I’ve been thinking a lot about kids’ books lately.  What makes a good kids book?  The story? The characters? Does it need a moral?  Does it have to teach a lesson?  When I say I’m thinking about kids’ books, I really mean toddler books, or early pre-school age… books appropriate for a 3-year old.  Books appropriate for a child that has outgrown board books and picture books with few words.  She wants  a story.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because Sophia LOVES books.  Some days it’s literally ALL she does is to sit and look at books.  These are her favorite topics: Disney Princess books, Max and Ruby books, OLIVIA books, Blue’s Clues books… Can you see a few questionable ones, there? Let me tell you a story.

If you follow my blog, then you might remember this story and picture. (It’s the painting the face blue with “make-up”episode…)  Well, what I found out the next day was a copy of a library book that I hadn’t yet looked at entitled Ruby’s Beauty Shop by Rosemary Wells.  This is a pretty adorable story (if you like Max and Ruby) about Ruby playing pretend make-up and beauty shop with Max.  Max eventually breaks off on his own and paints himself with hair dye.  YES!  You heard me right.  He PAINTS himself with hair-dye!  Exactly like Sophia did with my acrylic paints!  She was acting out the story!  Now, granted, this is also a story that is on a Max and Ruby episode by Nickelodeon… and, she has probably seen it… But no doubt, we had this particular book from the library at the time of the offense…

This isn’t the first time that she has acted out scenes from books.  She loves to play babies just like Olivia in OLIVIA and the Babies. She loves to play Little Red Rubyhood from Bunny Fairy Tales. She has an insane memory for lines from the stories and loves to recite them.  This is also not the first time she’s gotten in trouble from reenacting something from a book.  I decided after the initial embarrassment of finding Ruby’s Beauty Shop, that it’s normal for her to reenact, healthy even, and this is a good way for her to learn appropriate behavior.

WAIT, though!  She never would have even thought to paint her face blue with my paint if she hadn’t seen/read this story!  So, there’s the question:  Do we shelter our children for the sake of reducing possible misbehavior, or do we expose them and thus encourage teaching opportunities?  It’s the same age-old question that parents face when they consider homeschooling… (One of the questions they consider, I realize.)  Maybe, she’s too young for these books. They specify “reading level” for these books, but that’s not the same as age-appropriate content, is it?  Here’s the thing, though:  She’s excited about looking at books.  I don’t want to discourage that.  My hope is that excitement about looking at books will turn into excitement about reading books, and isn’t that one of my goals as a mother–to encourage learning and success in school?

Hmm.  So, back to what I think about these books, these kids’ books.  Max and Ruby books are silly.  Max is always getting into trouble, and it’s never clear that what he’s doing is wrong.  He’s never punished, and his parents are nowhere to be found.  But, Sophia LOVES them.  They make her laugh, and she loves retelling the stories.  Olivia.  Well, Olivia is honest.  The story line is honest and it’s great story-telling.  She’s just a kid being a kid.  Her parents are doing the best they can, and they are not always perfect.  For example, in OLIVIA, a CALDECOTT HONOR BOOK, Olivia has this conversation with her mother:

“Only five books tonight, Mommy,” she says.

“No, Olivia, just one.”

“How about four?”

“Two.”

“Three.”

“Oh, all right, three.  But that’s it!”

If this was intended to be a story of a mother showing exemplary parenting, then it failed miserably.  (We have a strict 2-books-at-bedtime policy here at the Spicer house.  We waiver only on VERY special occasions.) This is an example of a child manipulating. And a parent getting manipulated. Like I said, the story is honest.  I get that this happens.  I’ll admit that it happens at our house, too.  But, is it appropriate story material for my 2 1/2 year old?  There’s much more questionable behavior in there that I would loathe for Sophia to copy: Olivia replicates a painting from the museum and throws paint all over the wall. (She gets a time-out.) She doesn’t nap when she’s supposed to. (No punishment.)  She scares her little brother with a mask in order to get him to leave her alone. (No parental acknowledgement.)

Do I want my children’s books to be neutered in order that I can spoon-feed behavior-training?  Teach by example (Johnny is a good little boy.  See how he goes to take a nap when he’s supposed to.) or teach by story?  Isn’t the latter more like real-life, what it looks like to live in the world?  And, isn’t that what we’re raising our kids to do.  I want to raise children to become adults to be successful in the world.

I have very few “Christian” kids books, that is to say that they were put out by a Christian publishing company.  I’m not talking about Bible storybooks.  I’m talking about cheesy books like God Loves Your Nose.  We’ve been gifted a few like these.  And, may I say, I really don’t care for these books.  They’re boring.  They’re poorly written–lines seem to be put in just to finish a rhyme, making little to no sense, with little to no story line.  It’s fine that they furnish an opportunity to talk about God or a particular truth.  I’m cool with that.  But, don’t all books furnish an opportunity to talk about God or a particular truth?  If I’m in conversation with my daughter?

Woah.  This blog is really turning into a rant.  I haven’t even talked about princess books.  I don’t even know where to start there, but my sweet, precious daughter is absolutely in love with pink and princesses.  And, at the very least it provides an opportunity for us to talk about exemplary behavior.  And, COOKIES!  What is it about so many preschool books having cookies in them?  Cookies for morning snack?  Is this just a line to make kids happy and come back to the book.  Think, authors.  Think about my children and how reading about cookies makes them want to eat cookies… ALL THE TIME!

Okay.  I’m done.

a single word

I was reading a blog recently about “one little word” for the year.

I’d like to think of a word to ponder on as a reminder of where I am in God’s story this year.  Today is June 28th.  I wonder what God has in store this year.  I wonder what God can tell me with a single word.

It’s not January, it’s not the beginning of the year… but, it is the middle of the year.  I’m in the middle of this year’s story looking forward to the rest of it.  I’m in the middle of a lot of changes, a lot of waiting.  Yesterday at church, the pastor was talking about not dwelling in the past (in the shame of old sins) but looking forward to the future (as new creatures in Christ)–Phil 3. I thought that might be a nice place to start.

My brainstorm for possible words.

grace

embrace

heart

move

patience

life

family

I’m so curious how you read each word, how each word makes you feel, and where your mind goes to when you read them.

I’ll choose one of these words next week and get back to you.

Any words coming to you?

the thing about having two

Are you anything like me?  I tend to dwell on the negative.  I don’t do this as a habit in life, just with my kids and our day.  8-5 is such a long day, ya know?  I’m often so done by 5 that I need a perspective change.

(You don’t want to see me at 5…  I have a wonderful husband!)

I’m a glass half-full person, for sure, but I definitely live my days glass half-empty.  When I sit down to blog, it’s usually because I’m frustrated and need an outlet.  Writing helps so much.  I stand up feeling like I’ve vented, and I feel better.  Often I feel that the Holy Spirit tells me something.

I thought I could use a reminder, though.  A reminder of blessing when things are hectic and I’m feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated.  A reminder that these girls are girls to cherish.

So, this post is 10 reminders of what’s so great about having two.

10) Always have one to cuddle.  And, they are SO cuddly right now.

9) Usually one of them is not cranky if the other one is.

8 ) We each have one to share the other. (Sophia and I will play and tickle Abby.  When Abby laughs, Sophia laughs.  It warms my heart to see Abby delight in her younger sister.  Abby and I will watch Sophia.  When Sophia laughs, Abby smiles.  It warms my heart to watch Abby look at her sister with wonder.)

7) They’re each the perfect age.  For Sophia’s whole life, I have caught myself saying, “Sophia’s at the perfect age.  I love this age.”  I would say it one month and then say it again a few months later.  And mean it!  I had no idea that watching and helping a baby grow up would be so much fun.  I had no idea that love would fill me up more and more as the months go by.  I often think that I couldn’t possibly love them more, and a few months later, I do.  So, I find myself saying, “They’re each at the perfect age.” Sophia’s learning to talk and be a “big girl,” and Abby’s learning about her body and the world.  What could be better to watch?  And, I get both at the same time.

6) Two unique personalities to get to know, enjoy and parent.

5) Two souls to watch grow and develop and (hopefully) come to know the Lord.

4) Two beautiful sets of eyes to cherish the wonder and mysteries of their hearts.

3) Two lives to pray for and two journeys to be on with them.

2) Two stories in the making.

1) Two amazing children of God that will make my heart explode with love.

weakness revealed in the waiting

2:00 p.m. My most difficult hour.  Abby is cranky and tired.  It’s time for Sophia’s nap.  I’m at the end of my patience.  I’d like some time to myself. Today at 2:00 I laid down Sophia and picked up Abby.  No big deal.  No nap for me today. I feed Abby.  I soothe her.  I lay her down.  The fussing begins.  I take myself downstairs and I notice my shoulders are tight, my neck is stiff and my mind is racing with worry.  I say to myself that I’ll get a snack, lay on the couch, try to chill out while I wait for her to stop crying.  The thing is I’m not hungry. I’m worried, I’m unbelievably stressed out, and I want immediate comfort and solace.  What I really want is for someone to tell me, “Don’t worry.  She’ll go to sleep soon.” (Sometimes I text Da-da and he tells me that.  Thanks, Da-da.)

I do this a lot.  I reach for a snack as I wait for her to fall asleep.  I reach for a snack after she falls asleep wondering if this is for real.  I reach for a snack when 30 minutes has passed because she could wake up any minute.

I think what is revealed in my time of waiting on Abby to fall asleep is my complete inability to control this situation.  I cannot make her go to sleep.  I can’t guarantee that she’ll sleep for any amount of time.  I can’t make sure Sophia stays asleep, either.  I can’t control these babies!  So as I wait for her to fall asleep, I worry; I reach for my quickest comfort, and I don’t receive comfort at all.  My girls’ naptimes are often wasted with worry and pacing and indecision.  I can just snack, I don’t need time or energy for that.

This post isn’t about over-eating.  I realize my weakness to snack when I’m stressed, and I must give myself grace here.  Awareness of that tendency is the biggest battle.  What this post is about, though, is that there’s something in my waiting time that I need to pay attention to.  Something has been making me so stressed, irritable and cranky.  I think it may simply be that my day is not mine to control.  I may be able to control parts of it, but I cannot control my children.  Abby will sleep when she sleeps, and Sophia will act how she’s going to act.  I can help Abby sleep, and I can discipline and help Sophia’s behavior.  But, I cannot control them.  I can’t make Abby sleep, and I can’t make Sophia be still during a diaper change or not throw a tantrum as we’re trying to leave the house.

This waiting is revelatory if I pause and take note.  This waiting reveals my need to control and my inability to do it.  This waiting reveals my weakness and my need for the Father.

I was reminded of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

As I wait for Abby to fall asleep, I want to humble myself (I cannot control this situation.), pray (Lord, be with me.  Help me trust You.), seek His face (He is with me.  He is trustworthy.), and turn from my worry and need to be in control (He is in control.) He will forgive me and heal me.

That feels like a deep breath.  Lord, give me a deep breath.