Esmae is my sidekick. And by sidekick, I mean, pretty much everywhere I go, she goes. It’s definitely a love-hate thing. I’m sure all of you mamas out there know what I’m talking about here. I love that she loves me (seemingly) as much as I love her, but when I’d like to be gone for more than a few hours at a time, it gets a little suffocating. Is that mean? I hope you’re hearing me right here—I’m assuming you are. Not only is she my little koala cub, but she’s also a spotty napper. There’s no day I can depend on her for an hour long shut-eye at a time. Some days she naps, some days she doesn’t. Some days the longest amount of time I have to myself is about thirty minutes or so. Again—I love being with her, and I do feel like the days are fleeting—the days where she’s small enough for me to cuddle her and hold her and make her smile at the drop of a hat; but I think it’s possible that I’d love her just a teensy bit more if she’d actually give her mama a break each day that I can rely on.
Oh sweet little needy Esmae, I love you so, dear one.
So this last week on Thursday, Gabe had to leave early in the morning for his all-day staff meeting in Indiana. Esmae was exhausted—fussing if I was holding her, fussing if I wasn’t holding her. I knew it was time for her to lay down. She fell asleep immediately when her tiny little body hit her polka-dotted sheet, but in typical Esmae fashion, she woke up 20 minutes later hollering for me to come get her. I knew this “nap” was insufficient, so I decided this was the day I’d fight her on it.
As she laid her little head down quietly, then popped it back up in a cry, over and over again, I watched her on the monitor with feelings of anxiety washing over me. After this cycle continued over the course of about forty minutes (I went in occasionally as well to comfort her), my heart and head did battle with one another. My heart encouraged me to run in, pick her up and cuddle her. My head rationalized by reminding me that if I want her to nap, I have to teach her how.
At the end of the forty minutes, I kid you not, I held a book in my hands trying to read, but couldn’t stop watching her sleep on the monitor because of how sweet she was and because of how deeply and fully I loved her. I told my husband that the forty minutes of watching her struggle were hands down the hardest minutes of my week.
“If only she knew that sleep was so good for her! Maybe then she wouldn’t fight it so hard!” I told him.
It hit me then. If only I knew that material things wouldn’t buy my happiness, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to budget. If only I knew that chocolate wouldn’t make me feel better after a long day, maybe I wouldn’t eat so much of it. If only I knew that brutal honesty isn’t always the only way to be near to my husband, maybe I would be a little softer. If only I knew that being in the Word of God would draw me closer to Him every time, I would keep my Bible open, and scripture around always to read and remember. Maybe if I knew that Netflix wouldn’t actually take me to Stars Hollow or to Berkley then I’d pick up a book instead. Maybe if I knew that giving of my last ounces of energy or my last pennies of fun money to show my love to someone who needs it, I would give it more freely.
You see, our God looks on us and has a hard time tearing His eyes away from us when we struggle, and still again when we finally learn, He keeps His eyes upon His loved ones because of exactly that—He loves us so profoundly. His parental love is even greater for us than we have for our own children. It’s hard for me to imagine the possibility of that love. The reality of that love, I should say. Our bible says that our God “will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121: 3,4). You guys, His eyes never leave us. He never closes His eyes to take a break from us. “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).
He’s our sweet Abba—attentive, patient, pained with love, rooting for our righteousness, faithful, dependable, and while He celebrates us as we learn and grow, He loves us the same when we’re stuck in our cycles napless day after napless day. Oh to be less fickle…thankful for the promise of growth and renewal in the Spirit.