It is the second time in 3 hours my toddler wakes from her sleep and cries, calling for me. I am exhausted and for a moment am tempted to be angry. But three children, and 5 1/2 years of being a mother,T have taught me that anger is fruitless.
I roll out of bed and make my way across the hall to her bedroom. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust and when they do, I see her sweaty forehead, hair matted down, wet face. She reaches for me and in a moment is laying her head on my shoulder, sighing and nestling into me.
Instead of anger or frustration, I choose adoration in this moment. I nestle her right back and settle into the rocking chair in a corner of her room for what I’m sure will be hours of trying to sleep while I hold her.
I am tired and know I won’t sleep tonight like I want to. But, the thing is: this is what she needs right now. I learned a while ago that’s it’s okay to just give my children what they need.
There is so much fear in parenting these days, that we could love our kids too much, comfort them too much, be there for them too much. In the early morning hour as I hold my little girl and sing to her, it doesn’t seem like too much at all. It seems like such a small thing to hold a child I love when she needs to be held.
Sure some could argue that it isn’t really a need. Her desperate cries and desperate eyes tell me differently. I don’t know why she isn’t sleeping well tonight. Don’t know what is running through her mind that causes her to wake and call for me with such panic in her voice. Don’t know why she is screaming for me with fear in her cries. I don’t know and actually, it doesn’t matter to me at all. What does matter is that I am there when she needs me, even if I have to sacrifice sleep and comfort: I want to be there when she needs me.
Why all this stress about permanently damaging our children? Why all this worry that we could possibly be too present or too active in our children’s lives? Aren’t there enough people in the world who will let them down? Aren’t there enough times they will be disappointed that someone didn’t follow through for them? Can’t I, as a mother, just seek to fill my kids up with the good things they need when they need them so that when the world pulls them down maybe they can fall back on the reassurance that at least I am here for them?
I will rock my toddler when she cries. I will hold my 5-year-old’s hand when she is having separation anxiety. I will go into my 3-year-old’s room 15 times a night to assure him there is no dragon under his bed. If he is not convinced, I will sit and wait for said Dragon and of course slay him if necessary.
As long as God gives me the days, I will be there for my children. And I will ignore the specialists that say I am spoiling them. I will politely agree to disagree with the critics who say I am setting them up for failure. If I am able, I will give my children what they need when they need it and I will not allow anyone else except my husband and I to determine what their needs are and tell me how to mother my children.
I’m just not convinced that there are that many things we can do to really ruin our kids. Not one of us is perfect and not one of us has this mothering thing down, but I believe love covers a lot of mistakes we make. Our presence lessens the impact of the things we just got plain wrong. Our being there when they need us is more memorable than the times we dropped the ball. Our filling them up is what lasts.
So at 3 am, I hold my little girl and sing a song and pray over her sweet, sleeping body all curled up into me. I pray that God would fill her with good things and give me with wisdom to know what she needs when she needs it and not let comfort or selfishness prevent me from providing it.
I pray for grace as a mother and forgiveness for the times I get it wrong.
But this time?
This time feels like I got it right.