“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ∼ Frederick Douglass ∼
I’m sitting in our living room staring at the nursery video monitor. It’s almost 10:00 p.m., and my tiny baby boy is all alone in his vast crib for the first time since I brought him home. His sister is sleeping where she always does in our room because she’s the better sleeper, and we thought we would sleep train our lighter sleeper first. This is our first night to try it, and it’s been pretty painless. I had to go in several times to calm him, but he eventually settled down and drifted off by himself, with a few wiggles every now and then.
He’s doing great with it. His mama is not.
It’s not that I don’t want him to sleep in his crib. It’s not that I don’t want him to sleep through the night. It’s not that I don’t want this sleep regression to resolve itself. It’s not that I don’t want him to soothe himself to sleep in a healthy way. I need for all this to happen, too. Well rested babies make for happier babies, and happier babies make for a happier mama.
But I’m sitting here with tears on my cheeks because this is a step…albeit a tiny one…toward him not needing me as much.
I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and I know all you moms of grown children are going to say, “Yeah, she doesn’t even know the half of it yet,” but this hurts a little. This is the first event in his little life where I have really been struck by the fact that I’m trying to raise independent, self-sufficient adults who solve problems for themselves and DON’T need their mother…even though my heart wants them to always need me. It’s a paradox that I’m only beginning to understand, and I think it’s one that’s going to be challenging for me as they get older—when they start school, when they run into bullies, when they start driving, when they start dating, when they go to college, when they get married and have children all their own. The whole goal is for them to be able to do those things well, to make wise decisions on their own, and to make happy lives for themselves. So I’m essentially training them to NOT need me. And my very soul both embraces and resists that thought.
Since the moment our babies were conceived, I’ve been one half of the duo who serves as the center of their small world. I housed them for nine months where they were fearfully and wonderfully made. I am feeding them with the enormous amount of milk that my body is able to miraculously make. I have struggled with physical problems and pure exhaustion to make sure they were full and safe and happy. They depend on my husband and me for everything. But they won’t always, and that is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.
I’ve found (and I’m just beginning my journey) that a lot of God’s design for our lives as parents involves events and situations that are both beautiful and heartbreaking. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it’s His way of shaping us to be more like Him—to love more like Him and to be ever conscious of the bigger picture and the most important goal—Heaven.
So as I keep gazing at this precious little person of mine on the monitor, I’m going say a prayer of thanks that he is sleeping so well on his own. But I’m also going to thank my gracious Father that I still have a little while before I have to worry about school or driving or dating. At least for a short season, I can still be needed like I am now. And I’m going to treasure every moment of it.