Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Yield (oil on canvas), by Bryan Haynes
Yesterday Z lay in his crib at naptime and sang songs, told stories, and had a grand old time not sleeping. I gave up after an hour and went in to him. Nothing seemed to be wrong - clean diaper, noise machine on, and comfort items within reach - so I just held him quietly in the rocker and cuddled. I pressed my lips to his sweet head, smelled his coconut conditioner, and thanked God for this precious child.
Just as his breathing started to slow and I thought he might actually fall asleep after all, I heard D get out of bed. Now let me tell you that my dear darling D may have just turned 4, but the kid walks like a 300 pound gorilla.
Boom. D jumped to the floor. Z's eyes fluttered open.
Thump, thump, thump, thump. D lumbered down the hallway. Z shifted in my arms.
Mommy! D shout-whispered from the doorway to Z's room. I want to get up now!
I tried nodding and gesturing but that induced more shout-whispers so I finally whispered back, OK hon, go read books in the living room.
Thump, thump, thud. D dropped a book on the hardwood.
Squeak, rustle, squeak. D made himself comfortable on the noisy leather couch, right in Z's line of sight.
A wave of frustration swelled and churned. Why didn't Z nap in his crib like he usually does? Why did D have to be so loud at just the wrong moment? Why don't my kids just do what I want them to do when I want them to do it? But right before my grumbling grew into a full-blown whine-fest, the Holy Spirit broke through and pulled me up short with a simple truth: love yields.
What does this mean? It means that if we are going to live together in love, D is going to wake Z up from his nap too early, and Z is going to color on N's field trip permission slip, and N is going to eat the last of D's favorite cereal, and Mommy is going to forget to bring a lollipop to Supercuts even though she promised, and Daddy is going to accidentally recycle D's preschool registration form... and you know what? It's OK. Good, even. Because in those moments we are given the opportunity to yield to each other, to give grace to each other, to express love for each other in the small community that is our family.
Having three young boys means life is messy, but I am learning to see the mess differently. I want to teach my children that living in community means learning to yield to one another in the messiness. I'm pretty sure this won't be as simple as saying, "Gee N, isn't it great that D wrecked your Lego castle? Now you can show him love by responding with grace!" To be honest, I don't really know what this looks like exactly. But I'm told that kids learn more from watching than listening, so I guess I'll start by trying to actually do it, God helping me.
By the way, yesterday? Z totally fell asleep anyway, despite his brothers thumps, booms, and thuds. Ohhhh, so thankful.