Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It Doesn't Last Forever

This could apply to so many things with regard to children, but what I'm thinking of right now is the short period of time that an infant fits sleeping curled up between your belly button and the top of your chest. Never has that been more real to me than last year . . . the year my oldest baby grew up and not only moved away but moved away and overseas! And though I held him a lot, I would go back and do it more if I could. 

For nine months a baby is curled up in a crazy ball inside his mother's womb (well I guess part of the time he's small enough that he does not have to be curled up, but you get what I mean). When he enters this world he still needs to be close to his mother's (or father's) heartbeat. Can you imagine the comfort that is taken away when those sounds and feelings are just suddenly gone? I know that an infant is too young and the brain is not developed enough to identify the loss of what had been normal, but the brain is developed enough for him to sense comfort and security when he hears and feels what was normal.  But it's also a great thing for the parent in terms of bonding with the baby.  You CANNOT overbond!

I had two babies who struggled with sleep (James and David) and two who did not (Jason and Sarah). It was nice to be able to put Jason and Sarah down for bed and know they were going to fall asleep and that they were not going to be as demanding as the others. But nice and convenient is not what parenting is about. God NEVER promised that. He said there would be pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), and certainly as moms we all know the truth in that, but I don't think the pain and discomfort ends there. In fact that might be some of the easiest pain many parents feel. Yes, it hurts but the hurt generally ends and the body heals, but the emotional pain we feel throughout our children's lives is often not as short-lived. Your children will be hurt by others which will cause you pain. They will say things to hurt you. You will be saddened at times by their actions. The pain in childbirth is only the beginning.  No one is guaranteed an easy life, but I can tell you, if that's what you're seeking, DON'T have children.

But in the trials (and in the everyday life), there is great joy, as the Bible says in James 1. Don't miss those moments . . . the moments filled with joy . . . the moments you can cherish forever . . . the moments that create or enhance the relationship you have with your children. Hold your baby on your chest. Let him fall asleep there and stay asleep there (if you want). Don't feel an ounce of guilt rocking him to sleep or when he's older laying beside him in bed until he falls asleep . . . or letting him stay up past bedtime for that talk that might not happen any other time. These moments will be gone in the blink of an eye. By eight or nine months they don't fit in that space on your chest and/or they are too wiggly and it's not comfortable. By the 2nd or 3rd grade, if you have not seized those moments, your child is probably going to prefer to stay up with their friends than with you.  For people with young babies who are sleep deprived, I know it seems like you will never sleep again, but rest assured you will, and you will even miss the days when your children wanted to climb in bed with you.

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