|one of my favorite pictures of my sweet dog. He was so mad!|
I tend to be chatty and outgoing when things are going well. Let's talk about life! Tell me your problems! I'm all in. But then something pops up in my life and ... radio silence. While I'm silent, though, I'm also telling myself how alone I am in the world, how I clearly don't have anyone who is willing to stay in my mess with me. Meanwhile I'm ignoring the thirteen missed calls on my phone and the sweet "Are you still breathing?" texts from a half dozen friends. I create my own solitude and then shrivel inside it, every single time life gets hard.
Not this time.
I am not doing that anymore. I will write the truth here, no matter what. I will be emotionally honest, and I will begin by telling the truth to myself, which is usually the last person who wants to hear it.
The truth is, I'm tired friends. Bone tired. Soul tired. For several reasons.
My baby is thirteen months old and still wakes up two or three times a night to nurse. I had grace for waking up when he was younger. Babies need their moms, this too shall pass, etc. But something happened after his birthday. I had not realized it, but I'd been holding on to the notion that he would sleep when he turned one. All of my other babies did. My first baby was a dream, and slept dutifully very early. My middle two were more typical, and they both woke up for comfort their entire first year. For both of them, sometime around their first birthday they naturally dropped that habit. I never had to train them to sleep (which is a good thing, because I am really awful at that task). I just had to nudge them in the right direction, and they both fell into a natural twelve-hour sleep pattern right around their first birthday.
I hadn't realized it, but all this time I'd felt so gracious and benevolent about my lack of sleep, saying he'll sleep on his own eventually, I was assuming "eventually" would get here around his first birthday. Only it didn't. If anything, he started waking up more about that time, and hasn't backed down.
I've been dying the slow death of exhaustion for the past month.
So I started night weaning. Again I made assumptions about this process. If I nursed enough during the day, weaning him at night shouldn't be that difficult. It's just breaking a habit, right? Wow, is my baby working to disprove that assumption. The past two nights he has screamed for two to three hours at a time. And I'm not even taking the cry-it-out approach. Supposedly I have chosen the gentle way to wean. But when a baby is screaming in my face at 2 a.m., gentle is not the word that comes to mind.
This is the third day of attempting to night wean. And I'm tired.
In the meantime, during all of this not-sleeping, my beloved dog died. He was a sweet old golden retriever with the best disposition you could ever want in a family dog. We picked him out of a litter when he was eight weeks old, and had him almost exactly eleven years. But he had cancer, and he was suffering. Still, he was my dog for a long time. And now he's gone.
Also? The basement flooded. Again.
And that time I cried in a room full of strangers shook me up more than I realized. It's caused an identity crisis of sorts. All of my life, I've made friends in Christian circles. I'm a Christian mom! If I don't fit in with a room full of Christian moms, where do I fit in? And how do I figure out that answer while also trying to build a community in a new area? With four little kids in tow, no less?
This is where I am, friends. It's not poetic, it's not cute. But it is the truth.
This morning I was in the bathroom, yelling a little bit at God. God! I said. I'm supposed to be offering grace here! How can I offer anything when I'm this tired, when there's no end in sight?
He answered by reminding me that I can only give what I already have.
I can't offer grace until I receive it. I can't receive grace until I can acknowledge my need. And I can't acknowledge my need if I'm too busy pretending everything's okay. Grace begins with the truth - the truth about where I am, and where I thought I would be. I have to just stand here, in the gap between the way life is and the way it should be, and wait.
So I will. I am.
And I'm asking you to stand with me. Because maybe this is the only thing we can do for one another, really. When life doesn't go the way we planned, when we are in need of grace, maybe the way to offer it to one another is to stand in that gap and wait, together, for God to show up.