My husband and I finally came to terms with the fact we have a nine year old who still doesn’t sleep through the night. Through the years, we kept justifying all the good reasons she wouldn’t sleep: hungry often, night terrors, nightmares, growing pains, restless legs, things that go bump in the night. She’s even been known to sleep walk a time or two. And while these are real issues she deals with, she’s just a light sleeper who enjoys being awake infinitely more than asleep.
I mentioned this to one of my friends, Rebecca, and she said something I can’t quit thinking about:
“The thing about sleep that you figure out after parenthood is that it isn’t actually a right…more of a nice surprise perk!”
Sigh. And yes.
As a mama, I like to think older kids bring certain rights back. I didn’t expect to sleep when my kids were infants or toddlers, but I do expect to sleep through the night when they’re third graders. So once again, I discover how parenting shoves my “rights” to the farthest corner of the closet, mostly forgotten because they aren’t as important as things in the open accessible areas.
When I get all bothered about my “rights,” I’m usually putting myself first. And this isn’t all together bad. After all, I have to get some sleep, I need some time for my own creative interests, Bible reading, hanging with grown-ups. All these feed my soul. But in doing these good things, I’m still putting my loved ones first. I’m giving to me so I have something to give to them. We visit this place of me time, we don’t live there.
“There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept–the tension between ideals and realities. True joy is found by living somewhere between the “ideal life” and “daily realities.” That is where Jesus meets me, where His Holy spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy.” Sally Clarkson, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart
In parenting and otherwise, days and seasons ask us to give to others more than we give to ourselves. It isn’t ideal, but it is reality. And this is when I need Jesus most. In the fight between the way things are and the way I think things should be, may I call on Him, the One who sustains me and lavishes joy. Because I do have the right to keep dying unto myself.