Bedtime. Let me set the scene for you. Dinner is over. Hopefully dishes are done. There may or may not have been arguments about a certain 9-year-old practicing violin. There may or may not have been screaming about a certain 3-year-old not wanting to get out of the bath. Homework is done, sometimes after much complaining. Mom is tired. Dad just wants to sit down. After bathroom trips, teeth-brushing, picking out clothes for the next day, another bathroom trip, and searching for the perfect stuffed animal or book for the night, we tuck them in, say prayers or play our thank-you-God game, and lights are out. Okay, okay. There may or may not be a threat about what will happen if either of those girls gets up.
Currently Isabel is in a stage where she is testing my bedtime limits. She shares a room with Ava, so many nights she keeps Ava up for an hour or more. She sings, talks, gets up, hits Ava, tickles Ava, climbs into bed with Ava. Now that she is potty-trained, she comes in our room, having to go potty. Again. She slams the closet door, plays with her toys. She makes messes, then opens and closes her bedroom door just to see if we are outside. She. Tests. My. Patience.
Ava knows that Mom has enough drama at bedtime and is usually pretty good about staying in her bed. She knows getting out of bed means grounding from her Kindle.
I hope I have set the stage adequately for the happenings of Thursday night past. This particular night we tried to get the girls in bed early because Ava had ISTEP testing the next morning. I had told Ava that the next day I would not be home when she got off the bus and she would walk to Tasha’s house. She was nervous about it, but we talked it though. Tasha’s house is only a block or two away and Ava walks and rides her bike there from time to time.
About 30 minutes later, Ava was in our room. I didn’t look up. I didn’t want to lose my temper or get into a discussion. It had been settled. Ava would go to Tasha’s. Jimmie walked her back in her room and was in there for a long time. When he came back in our room, the discussion went something like this.
Jimmie: Ava is sobbing. She wants to see you. She is nervous about tomorrow.
Rachael: She has walked to her house before. She goes to Kristi’s house, that is even farther. She is being dramatic.
Jimmie: She said she had a dream that someone kidnapped her by the park. She is scared.
Rachael: (still relatively unmoved) Jimmie, she is just looking for reasons not to go to sleep. This isn’t a big deal at all.
Jimmie: RACHAEL, YOUR DAUGHTER IS IN HER BEDROOM. SOBBING. TERRIFIED. SHE WANTS TO TALK TO HER MOM.
I believe that often when Jimmie raises his voice, it is the Holy Spirit speaking through him.
I walk into the room. My baby is looking up at me, tears streaming down her face. She reaches up, wraps her arms around me and holds on for dear life. She is scared. I finally come to my senses. I speak soothing words. I make other arrangements. We make up. I hold her, hug her. I speak of Jesus as our protector. I speak of fear and how it has no place in us when we know Jesus. I pray over her. I stroke her hair and watch her in wonder as she sleeps easily, comforted by my words and her Jesus. I am so overwhelmed with love for this child, I think I may burst.
I hear the voice, somewhere deep inside, speaking truth I have avoided. This is your child. Take delight in her. She is wondrous. She is not an inconvenience, she is a delight. Find joy in her. Speak gently. Show her grace. Be a soft place to fall. I delight in you, my child. Now delight in her. Your child.
I don’t know when it happened. I always have moments of delight in Ava. She is so smart and confident. She is caring and strong. She leads, she loves. She has PASSION. My head knows this, but for a while now I have been so consumed with myself, my problems and my struggles that my heart wasn’t in it. It may have been that way for a week. Maybe a month. I pray it wasn’t longer than that. I was so grateful that God woke me up Thursday past. It is easy for me to take delight in the 3-year-old who hugs mama all the time, says the cutest things, cuddles and kisses. I thank Jesus that He reminded me that I must wonder at Ava. She is a glorious gift. If I look, I can see Jesus in her. I can see the beauty of creation. I can see His love in the way she loves. I am delighting in her again.
He delights in me, after all. The Bible tells me so. Even when I fall terribly short as a mom. Even though I am willful and resistant to His prompting. Even if I get up when I’m supposed to stay put. Even though I make messes. Even if I pretend I need something when He has given me everything I need to rest. Even when I talk when He wants me to be quiet and still. Even if I slam doors He has opened so I can see the light. Even if I annoy and hinder my brothers and sisters on this journey with me. Even if I’m afraid when there is nothing to fear. Even if I cry even though He has assured me everything will be okay. In spite of myself, He delights in me after all.
Do you delight in your children? Do you ever consider that God takes delight in you? What obstacles keep you from delighting in your children? I would love to hear that I’m not alone in this struggle! This wasn’t a mom-moment I am proud of, but I thank God for the lesson that followed.