Since we had to stop swaddling Jane (too hot, rolling onto tummy, frequent Houdini-like escapes) we’ve had a week of rough nights. I remained optimistic for the first two days. But even when Jane finally slept, I couldn’t, which was almost as maddening. On night four, I threw my alarm clock (the $4 model) at the wall, startling Neil and revealing my complete lack of maturity.
During these literal dark nights of the soul, I realized once again what I’ve been learning all along as a mom.
I don’t know what love is.
Let me clarify. “We know love because He first loved us.” Jesus laid down His life, by living and dying completely for others’ benefit, to give us what we really needed: forgiveness and freedom. So I know what love is, what it looked like and how it operates. But when it comes to loving sacrificially, like staying up most of the night with a 6-month-old for a week, I fail miserably.
I know how to throw temper tantrums.
I know how to be crabby and negative.
I know how to pretend I’m fine to seem tough.
I know how to act pathetic and seek pity.
Then Neil came in and offered me a night off. In fact, it wasn’t an offer, it was a command. When I tried to get up with her at 5:30 am, after he’d been up all night, he said, no, it’s my turn, go to bed. He camped in the hallway so I wouldn’t be bothered by him going in and out. He turned off the monitor base so I couldn’t tune in (not that I tried!).
I felt so loved by this (and slept so well), I was re-energized to handle night 6 more calmly. Neil also impressed me by being completely cheerful the next day. He helped his brother move furniture, pulled Simon in the bike trailer to go fishing, and then we attended a wedding and he pulled me onto the dance floor!
But the dark night of the soul is supposed to be about your spiritual journey to get closer to God through suffering. It’s silly to even consider this real suffering, but God showed me what love looks like through Neil, who didn’t seem to think his sacrifice was a big deal. And I’m remembering, as I learned with Simon, that sacrifice isn’t just taking care of your baby. It’s serving your husband and not being a B even when you’re sleep-deprived, and trying to care about and help other people, too.
Tonight when I was putting Simon to bed, he kept pointing to pictures in the book and saying, “What’s that, Mom?” “What is that guy doing, Mom?” And I got butterflies in my stomach, like the first time Neil held my hand, just thinking about how I am official. I am Mom to him and always will be. I’m not just playing pretend, driving a station wagon, playing Raffi, and going to Target. It’s not an extended babysitting job, it’s for real and I want to do my best. So here’s to coming through one dark night of the soul, heading in to the next soon, no doubt (teething is imminent), and trying not to throw my alarm clock again (it survived).