Have you ever had one of those days that was a complete train wreck? Yesterday was one that my husband and I felt we barely survived. Baby Knives was a wreck and so were we. She woke up at 6am and didn't sleep more than 30 minutes at a time (and that was rare) all day long and was just fidgety and upset. She was exhausted, you could see it in her little face, but she'd fall asleep and then wake up 10-15 min. later for no reason we could find. Poor kiddo...and poor us!
Thankfully, after tears from both baby and Mommy, two explosive dirty diapers, three major spitups and two baths, at about 9:30pm she finally fell asleep. We held our collective breaths and she kept sleeping...all the way til 3:30am! Then she went down for another 2 hours after eating, and then again and right now (at 9:45am), she's been sleeping for another hour. I could cry in relief...and probably will!
I know days like this are just part of being a parent and you have bad days no matter what age your child is, and I love that little munchkin to death, but yesterday I was constantly questioning how I can do this, keep some semblance of my sanity and take care of my daughter. It seems the most basic thing, to be able to figure out what's wrong, why she's upset and be able to fix it. Isn't that a huge part of what motherhood is? And yesterday nothing worked...I was feeling like a huge failure as a parent and hated that we were all miserable and nothing we came up with made anything better.
When she finally went down at 9:30 and we started to actually believe she might stay asleep for more than 30 minutes, I almost didn't take the time to sit down with my devotional book and Bible before bed...but I've been trying to make it more of a habit and a way to unwind before I fall asleep at night...so I picked it up. I've been reading a book called, "Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God" and each chapter is only about 3-4 pages and includes a short story about the author's experience and challenges raising her kids and has a scriptural tie-in. It's a breath of fresh air and encouragement at the end of my day and has become a reminder to take it one day at a time and try to focus on the good days and happy moments, especially after a day like this!
Last night's chapter was called "The Pruning Hand of God". This is the passage from the book that I swear God had jump off the page and smack me in the forehead:
A well-pruned vineyard looks stark. Dead. But only the pruned vineyard will produce fruit in season. Likewise, my motherhood is often the tool God uses to prune me in order to produce healthy fruit.
Before children, the garden of my spiritual life seemed productive, with neat rows and happy plants. Children upset my tried and true "quiet time". Their late-night feedings wore my patience thin, their inherent neediness exposed my selfish heart. My spiritual garden had grown out of control. Children revealed to me my need for the "Gardener" and his gentle pruning hand.
When life is crazy and children are screaming, remember that God is using these very circumstances to prune your self-sufficiency. Remember the hopeful truth that God is never closer to the "branches" than when He is pruning.
As if that passage didn't speak to me clearly enough, the Biblical tie-ins nailed it home.
John 15:1-2 - "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Galatians 5:22-23 - The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law."
John 15:16 - "You did not choose me, but I c hose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last."
Bad days will come, I can't control that - all I can do is hang on and survive them, focusing on the One who can give me the strength to get through them, who cares enough to be with me every step of the way to make me a better wife and mother through these days.