I’m sure no one can relate to this but I tend to fall into a black hole when I have a newborn. I teeter on the edge until about six weeks when the sleep deprivation wears me down and I thought things would be easier but the end is nowhere in sight. I fall down into the black hole almost willingly, I let the weight of every ones wants, needs, and expectations land heavy on me and I stop trying to fight the lies that I can’t do this. Knowing my tendency to sink into this black hole, I vowed the third time around would be different. I decided from the start I’d get more help, let housework go, and just accept that life was hard for this season. I decided not to fight the hard and just let it settle in like a marinade that was just part of the making of motherhood.
I decided early on I would do two things. 1. I would count the little wins. Like when Colbie slept a 6 hour stretch…win. When Briggs didn’t poke Colbie’s eye out when he was trying to jam the paci in her mouth…win. When Claire played sweetly with her brother…Win. When Netflix added another season of bubble guppies…TRIPLE WIN. I would count the little wins and let the little loses go. Secondly, I would remind myself every day that we were one step closer to things being easier. I would trek on, one bedtime at a time.
My vow to make the third time around different didn’t take into account the very real emotions that take over after giving birth and the unforeseen health problem with Claire that left us with a lot of questions and having to patiently wait for answers. Then the six weeks hit and I was diving into the darkness myself, tears flowing and wondering if it would ever get easier.
With Briggs when the darkness hit I had a lot of people tell me God was walking with me in the sleepless nights, sickness, and marital spats that come with overwhelmdom. I laughed. I really believed God had bigger priorities that my petty sleeplessness and roller coaster of hormones. After all newborns are a gift, children are a gift, why would God listen or care that I was overwhelmed by responsibilities and underwhelmed by life? I just couldn’t believe he cared and my constant inability to handle the life that I had created left me feeling like a failure in both the eyes of God and onlookers.
This time though I thought, what if he did care? What if he wanted to hear my battles and fears no matter how small? What if he wasn’t mocking my inability but patiently waiting for me to come to him with all of it? So I just prayed and asked for encouragement because I’ve done this enough to know that you can’t change circumstances but you can keep going simply by being told you can. Soon I was on the phone with an older mom who had a similar health issue with her youngest daughter who is now grown. It didn’t mean Claire would have the same journey but it gave me hope that it could be far better than we were expecting which is all we can really cling to when the unknown lingers ahead. I had family loving on us, my sisters praying, my mom checking in, in-laws helping with the kids and I realized it was God’s hands reaching down to pull me up.
So what if God had cared all along? What if my cynicism had deflected his invitation to come to him? What if I had missed the opportunity to experience God like never before simply because I assumed he didn’t care? As all this sank in Claire came to me upset about something disappointing her little heart. It was small in comparison to the breadth of my world but of course I turned to her and listened intently. As I held her close I was struck by my love for her even in the small things. Over the past four years God has often used my response to my kids to teach me more about his response to me. I could almost hear God say, if you don’t turn her away why would I turn you away? I care for you like you care for her. I knew it was true, like you know grass is green and the sky is blue. In my worst days I don’t turn my back on my kids when they come to me for comfort. Do I indulge every emotion or treat every little incident like it’s the end of their world? No, but I always do my best to help them through it even if that means helping them see that it’s going to be OK.
So I decided to believe that God cared, that he was walking with me through sleepless nights and unknown outcomes. I decided to take him at his word and simply ask for him to keep picking me up when the darkness felt like it would overtake my heart.
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.