On Fatigue and Faith

It’s 4 am and I am sitting in the rocking chair, listening to the mostly rhythmic breathing of my sleeping baby.  Tears stream down my face involuntarily.  My body knows how exhausted I am, and responds without my permission.  I guess tears are a natural part of motherhood, and even when I try to be strong they sometimes force their way out, whether the emotions are on the surface or not.  My heart and body are in sync even when my brain is too tired to feel the strain of six weeks caring for sick children and husband while being sick.

As Nicholas’ breathing pattern changes, I wait for the next fit of coughs to rack his body.  This time it doesn’t come and I am thankful that he seems to have found some level of comfort at last in my arms.  In my bed lays my sweet girl, who had a bad dream and needed Mommy and Daddy.  On my floor lays my precious Lucas whose fever seems to have come down temporarily although his ear is causing him great pain.  On the other side of the house, Matt seems to have found respite in the kids’ room from the inhalers, aspirator, thermometers, crying, coughing, gasping that have dominated our nights for weeks on end.  I am glad for his sleep.  I am overjoyed to be awake …

And that’s what no one prepares you for as you consider entering motherhood, because although many speak of countless nights of sleep training, feedings, diaper explosions, wet beds, fevers (the list goes on and on), there is not another who has mothered your own children, and therefore no one can describe how you will forgo sleep joyfully and sometimes fearfully, doing your darnedest to trust that you can see these little lives through the night.  From the time that tiny, writhing, screaming, beautiful, precious life is placed in your care, through the first night of their lives, when you just stare at them in that hospital cradle, because seriously has there ever been something more amazing created, to the many nights when you just don’t know what to do to help them, all the while knowing that they are trusting you to do just that, your life is changed forever for the better.  That’s one of the many paradoxes on this journey … the trust and the fear that gives way to breath prayers.

Calm his body …

Cradle her in your arms …

Clear his airways …

Comfort her heart …

Bring healing …

Peace …

Help me, help them … 

Knowing that there is so little you can do in your own strength to be what he needs, it is second nature to want, no to need help and so often in the middle of the night mom is all they’ve got, and where mom has her trust rooted is all they need, and for this mom that must be enough.

Over the past six weeks there have been moments when I’ve longed to live closer to family.  I should be grateful that all we’re dealing with is sinus and ear infections, asthmatic coughing, high fevers, teething, lack of appetite, lethargy.  I am so thankful that we’re never given more than we can bear, but as I’ve had less than an hour of uninterrupted sleep at a time for seven weeks, and I’m hoping to fuel my body’s energy on less than sixteen hours total sleep this week, there is a huge, human part of me that is homesick.

In times like these, were I not confident in the calling and the one who’s called, I would beg to move closer to family; home.  But we’re not the first that have lived isolated from blood relatives and we are not the last that will survive it.  That’s the problem though.  I feel like I am just barely surviving and I so want to thrive. I want it for my children and so when I can’t thrive, I will walk on.

This morning I joyfully rock my Nicholas, holding his body upright, hoping that this position will encourage clearer airways, resulting in less fitful sleep.  My breath prayers are of gratitude and hopes to be filled with less of my tired, cranky self and with more of the selflessness and grace to which I, as mother, am called.

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