Well folks...it's been about two weeks since our go at potty training and I'm happy to report that things are still "dry" in the Kirby house. Although going #2 has been our latest struggle, we are taking each day at a time. Patience please Jesus!
When trying to decide what I was going to write about for this blog post I felt clueless. I felt like I had nothing good or meaningful to say so I kept on holding off and as I continued to do so, I continued to feel that there was nothing in my life that was worth writing about. I started to feel discouraged and hopeless. My whole desire is to reach out to other women, mothers, and just people in general, and share life with them, but I felt like I had nothing of value to share. As my dread continued to sabotage my feelings of joy I heard the Lord say..."you are enough Tessa. You have enough. And what you have I want you to share."
It was at that moment that I knew that even though, I didn't know what exactly it was that I was supposed to share, He was going to give me the words to write. So here I am...sitting in the peace and quiet as my now TWO year old daughter sleeps soundly and the gentle kicks from my precious baby boy sooth me and even though I don't know what it is that I'm going to say next I know that God will use my words to glorify His Kingdom in some way, shape, or form. So bare with me as I explore this vulnerable state of unknown and have grace on me...PLEASE!
I've recently returned home from Michigan where I spent the last week visiting my parents and sisters (for those of you who don't know, I have three older sisters: one that lives in Michigan and two that live in Nashville, TN and this time around I was lucky enough to be at home the same time as a sister visiting from Tennessee). And it was during my stay there that I encountered a lot of parenting...."firsts," I should say.
You see, whenever I venture up to the great state of Michigan I usually do so on my own, without my husband and I'll normally stay for a minimum of a week. I feel so blessed and humbled to have the luxury of spontaneously traveling at a moments notice but I'm not gonna lie...traveling alone has its moments as well. While there, we explored the pumpkin patch, attended a live concert, hosted dance parties, ate lots of yummy and delicious food, and played nonstop with cousins.
It was also there that we experienced numerous sleepless nights, tantrums, uncontrollable and unnecessary screaming (at 2 in the morning I might add), pooping issues, a fever of 104 and worst of all...an ear infection (which probably caused all of the above but I was too naive to realize till the last day I was there). And it was during those moments that I felt the most challenged and stretched in my parenting then I had ever before.
Maybe you can all relate with me when I say that in life you often have to make some mistakes before you can figure out how to do things right. My entire life I've always tried to do the "right" thing and I've always tried to follow the path the God has laid out for me but the truth is...I haven't always succeeded. There have been many times in which I've failed to accomplish the many goals I've set for myself and that hasn't been an easy reality to face. It has been especially challenging in my role as a parent, knowing that daily I'm making mistakes and praying to God that in the end His grace will cover them.
It was in there, in Michigan, that I felt as though the only thing I could do was make mistakes...and at the expense of my daughter. You see, I've never dealt with an ear infection, I've never dealt with my daughter screaming uncontrollably in the middle of the night, I've never dealt with navigating the health of my child and doing it alone and I've never dealt with feeling like there was absolutely nothing I could do to make the pain go away. And so I preceded to make mistake, after mistake, after mistake (at least that's what it seemed like).
There was one night there that I thought I was literally going to lose my sanity. Rozalyn wouldn't go to sleep at her normal hour of 7:30 PM and there wasn't a trick in the book that I hadn't already tried to lull her to sleep. I rocked her, sang her her favorite lullaby, rubbed her back and arms, laid down next to her, gave her a bottle...you see what I mean. And eventually I just gave up...I was so frustrated with the hours I'd spent to do absolutely nothing and I knew, emotionally I couldn't do one more thing. So I did the only thing I hadn't already tried: I tucked her in one last time, told her it was time to go "na-night" and walked out. Of course the screaming followed and the yelling of "ma-ma!" and I sat in the room next to hers with tears in my eyes praying to my Father that she would go to sleep!
After a little while, my mom came upstairs and offered to take her while I rested. I'm sure at this point I looked like a hot mess but I was so frustrated that I told my mom just to leave her. I don't know if any of you have ever felt that way towards your child when they don't do exactly what you want them to...like go to bed on time! But for me, I was so enraged at the sheer fact that I had done everything in my "mommy power" and it still wasn't good enough. My precious mother practically insisted that she take her and I rest as much as I possibly could. There was nothing in me that could fight back and so I willingly submitted and laid down to rest for the night.
Well that nights rest quickly dwindled and two hours later I was up in action, soothing Rozalyn as she screamed uncontrollably. My bed made for one soon became a bed for two and the tossing and turning of the young child next to me allowed for little to NO sleep. As I struggled to lay my mind to rest, I finally felt myself doze off. It wasn't long after that the moaning began which soon turned into screaming and there was nothing I could do to console her. I felt my heart sink as the reality of this long night set in and I waved my white flag in surrender. I guess I could deal with some "late night" cartoons...even if it was 3:30 in the morning and let's just be honest, there are never any GOOD cartoons on at that hour. So we headed downstairs and kept busy by munching on graham crackers and drinking chocolate milk, watching who knows what on Disney channel. About an hour later I cautiously asked Rozalyn if she was ready to go back to bed and to my surprise she answered "yes." It took about a half hour for the squirming helpless body to quiet and it wasn't long after that I felt myself sink into a deep slumber.
One thing I can vividly remember from that night is that I kept asking the Lord for patience, and understanding. I knew there was nothing that I could do physically, or even emotionally to make things go any differently but I knew that the Father's heart longed for His daughter to walk vicariously in His perfect peace, and understanding and I knew that He longed for me to simply ask for it. To my sweet surprise I actually felt the Lord grant me just that. As I worked to sooth Rozalyn to sleep I felt my anger leave me and in its place came a sudden sense of joy.
Joy? Joy, Tessa? How could you be feeling JOY in the middle of the night with a cranky two year old and no husband to take turns with?!
Believe me, I was asking myself the same exact question. But there was something valuable about that night. Something that gave me purpose and strength. Maybe it was the fact that I was surviving the seemingly impossible. Or maybe it was the fact that although this time spent with Rozalyn was used to constantly calm and sooth her, it was time nonetheless. Time that I got to spend with my precious daughter who needed nothing more than her mother in that exact moment.
The next morning I awoke early to the sound of my daughters screams yet again, and I sheepishly scooped her up in my arms and headed downstairs. When I reached the kitchen my mom and dad sat with their cups of coffee (looking well rested I might add, while I wore my crazy hair in a side pony, with yoga pants and a baggy shirt that barely stretched over my growing belly) and they looked at me with sincerity in their eyes and proclaimed, "Tessa, you are doing an amazing job." (They obviously didn't say it in unison because that would have been a little too "rehearsed" but you know what I mean). And it was exactly what I needed to hear to get through that moment. I didn't know what I was going to feel like the rest of that day but I knew that in that exact moment I was doing a good job, I was succeeding.
After all the mistakes I had made during that trip, I finally felt like I was doing something RIGHT, something my daughter actually needed and I was satisfied. You see, even though I had made mistake, after mistake, after mistake on that trip the Father granted me the assurance that His grace would cover it and I have no shame in that. I learned two very valuable lessons during that trip...
1. I can't do this parenting gig alone.
2. The men and women who do...are SUPER (freakin') HERO'S!
We each have the power to make mistakes...we all know we are going to make them but it's what we do with them that can determine the value to which we hold in our roles as parents. Whether you are a single mom, single dad, stay at home mom, or working parent you play a significant role in your child's life and there are gonna be times that you have no idea what you're doing (I've experienced only a small fraction of this compared to a lot of you) but the Lord desires to grant you the peace and understanding that you need to get through each day. The truth is...we have a Father that longs to lavish His love on His children, and there is nothing that we can do to make Him love us any less or any more. We are HIS children and He is well pleased with us.
"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act." Psalm 37:4-7
I definitely do NOT claim to have this whole parenting thing down....I promise! I have a lot to learn in my lifetime but the words that the Lord has given me I long to share with all of you. My hope is that you are encouraged and enlightened by each of my blog posts. It is such an honor to share life with each of you. xoxo