Sunday, January 27, 2008

Eighteen Months

During these difficult few weeks I had to sometimes remind myself that motherhood was truly a divine gift. “Could one die from lack of sleep?” I wondered. What on earth was I thinking, having four children?

I have heard mothers mocking the parenting textbooks, saying there was nothing they could learn from them. But at the turning of eighteen months my child has been a classic textbook example of the age. Knowing that all babies (and their parents) must resolve these stages; being given various tools to deal with them, albeit the advice is sometimes conflicting; being reminded that all babies express their needs in their own way, according to temperament and personality; all these things I think are empowering to us as parents.

Eighteen months. The coming in of the upper incisors, accompanied by lack of appetite and changing sleep habits (in this case, the apparent dearth of a need for it). Separation anxiety at its height, accompanied by the need for a comforting blanket, whining, clinging, and the related difficulty sleeping alone. The frustration of understanding language and yet not being able to fully express it.

Prayers came from across the continent, from family with whom the spiritual bond is so close that the need for prayer is received by these supplicants without my asking. And at the moment of highest necessity it is felt, like a trickle of water in a desert. A moment of grace is all around me: before me, behind me, beside me, and above me.

There was light at the end of the tunnel. And in that light I found myself again. A newly born confidence in my relationship with God, self, and others – especially, those in my charge as a Mother.

And at the same time, my little one seemed to strike her own required balance of dependence-independence, realizing her own competency and ability to communicate her needs. The sleep pattern is still resolving, giving me just enough to feel on top of things, but she has become quite cheerful and winsome during her waking hours.

It is like the quiet after the storm, when the earth seems shiny and new. One appreciates its beauty all the more for having weathered it.

“God, my Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet swift as those of hinds
and enables me to go upon the heights.”
Habakkuk 3:19

Painting above:
Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair
1878; Oil on canvas;
National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

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