With Jon Vallier

The Afterparty.

birthday cake

It’s 2am.

Well, more specifically, it’s 2:08am.

This is an important detail because those last few hours before my alarm goes off are especially precious to me.

At this moment, however, rather than snuggling under our down comforter (our brilliant Costco splurge last year), I am crouched next to my newly one-year-old’s crib holding his chubby little hand through the slats of our well-worn crib while he babbles in the dim light.

While he chatters on, I consider the deep questions of life:

Why am I not in bed?

Why isn’t Seth sleeping?

Why isn’t he dreaming peacefully of his new toys with the taste of birthday cupcake on his tongue and the sweet lullaby of the sound machine echoing in his little ears?

As I shift my weight to bring some feeling back into my numb toes, I reflect on my reading of the book of Isaiah. While many of the prophecies and symbolic language confuse me, the heart of God shines through. I have one of the passages etched out on our chalkboard at the bottom of our stairs (the theory being that I can have enough time to read it each time I make the journey down). It reads:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”
 (Isaiah 49:15-16)

I let my kids cry themselves to sleep. We don’t do co-sleeping. We don’t feed our children grass fed, organic beef. The chickens we consume probably led terrible lives. Baby-proofing is more of a spontaneous in-the-moment process than a preventive measure. Yet I love my boys so much it hurts. They are the sons of my womb and my love for them is deep.

This is why I find myself conversing in baby talk with my youngest in the wee hours of the morning. It’s his third time waking up crying angrily and screaming bloody murder and my heart goes out to my little birthday boy.

Of course, I am a bit peeved when his supposed agony is completely gone when mommy is present (my visions of him in terrible pain; were the birthday cupcakes bad? Is he teething? Is his leg caught in the crib slat? All apparently false), but I can’t help but smile in return at his toothy grin as he pats my knee.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I still remember miserably creeping into my mother’s room after vomiting in the middle of the night and whispering, “I’m sick”. Without a word of complaint, she would settle me on the couch with a fresh blanket and clean bowl and then go “into the trenches” and clean up my mess. This happened more than once. And each time was compounded as I had eight brother and sisters who inevitably contracted the same illness.

A mother’s love is beautiful and powerful, yet God’s love is infinitely greater.

My love for my sons is flawed. I am selfish. I really don’t want to be by Seth’s crib when my lovely Costco comforter is calling from the other room. I snap at my boys when I’m tired, hungry, or in pain. I snap at my boys even when I’m not tired, hungry, or in pain. I have little patience for their disobedience or their misunderstanding of my instructions. But I love them to the moon and back.

“…even these may forget…yet I will not forget you.”

It’s 2:48am.

Seth is still not asleep. But he is calm, and I am tiptoeing back to my bed secure in the knowledge that God’s love for me is not flawed, imperfect or broken.

Both Seth and I can rest in that tonight and every night.

And with that I say,

“Good night.”