“MAMAAAAAA!!!!” My daughter’s shrill voice pierces straight into the delicious dream I’ve been having and I wrench out of sleep, groaning. My bed is soooo soft and warm and the clock reads 2:59 a.m. There’s no reason I should need to get out of bed right now. But then she calls again: “MAMAAAAAA!”
Sighing, I lumber out of bed and walk zombie-like into my daughter’s room. She’s lying on her bed on her back crying for me. “What’s the matter?” I ask her. “My foot is cold.” She responds. I quickly detangle her blankets and move them so that her foot is covered and warm again. “Is that better?” I ask. “Yup! Night mama,” says my four-year-old. Hilarious what constitutes a “3 a.m. emergency” in her book.
Climbing back into bed, I pull up my own covers and begin slipping gratefully back into sleep, glorious sleep. Just as I’m drifting away on another dream, another shrill cry stabs into it. I sigh dramatically and head back to my daughter’s room.
But this time it’s not my four-year-old and her foot. It’s my 3-year-old son hollering from his toddler bed. “I’m Firsty!” He moans. Every mother knows that “firstiness” can only be solved with a glass of water. So I trudge to the bathroom, and pour him a cup. I sit by his bedside while he gulps it down, then kiss his sweet little head and smooth his hair. “Go back to sleep now.” I say.
I’ve barely settled back into bed before another cry wakes me. I don’t even bother sighing. I know this cry needs my attention. The baby is up and wanting to nurse. Twenty minutes later I’m kissing his sweaty hair and tucking his little body back into his crib. Now I can finally sleep. But I don’t sleep. The rest of the night I’m up and down, up and down, answering cries and calls and pleas about cold feet and being “firsty” and being scared because of monsters.
By the time morning rolls around, I am exhausted and barely functioning. I’ve managed to get maybe 2 total hours of sleep between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., and now my alarm is going off. Time to get up!I hear the baby cry again and I walk into my children’s room only to be greeted by the foul smell of urine. It’s not the baby. What in the world? I sniff around the room until I locate the source of the smell. One of my daughters has wet her bed. She’s old enough to get herself up out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
“Why didn’t you get up to go potty?” I ask her. “I was too scared.” She tells me. “It was dark.” “Next time, call out for mama,” I tell her. “I’m happy to turn on a light for you. Don’t just lay in your bed and wet your pants!” I want to add “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” But I don’t need to ramp up the drama. My daughter had been scared in the dark and didn’t even think to call out for me. Instead, she tried to ignore her problem, and it had manifested in a wet bed and foul smell.
Even when I’m utterly exhausted, I want my children to call out to me in the middle of the night! I don’t want them to stumble around in the dark, bumping into things, attempting to find their way to the bathroom or a drink of water. If they can’t see, if their path is unclear, if they’re lonely or scared or hungry or their foot is cold, I want to be there to help them. I am their mother, their protector and teacher. It’s just part of my job description.
We have a heavenly parent who wants us to call out to him too. If we are lonely or scared or hungry or we have a problem that might not even really be a problem, our God wants to hear about it. Unlike me, however, he’s never grumpy or tired or unavailable when we call on Him. He’s always awake and available and ready to answer our prayers. So why do I so often lie alone in the dark and try to hide with my problems under my blanket rather than call on my God?
Dear God, I know that you are always there for me. You’re always available to answer my prayers and to give me help and strength when I need it. Help me to call on you FIRST before I try to solve my own problems. Amen.