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Watching from a Distance

I just spent ten minutes staking out James in his crib.  Staking out might be a bit strong but that’s what it felt like to me.  Over the past few weeks we’ve had problems putting him to bed.  Problems meaning that instead of putting him down and him falling to sleep with no problems, he’s been screaming and crying for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.  I told Jason the other night that it’s easy to say that we’re “cry it out” people when your child doesn’t cry.  These few weeks we’ve been less cry it out and more respond to the screaming.

I finally resorted to taking James to the doctor this morning after he woke up crying four times last night and pulled on his ears a couple times.  No ear infection or anything else wrong with him other than that one of his top teeth is trying to come through.  We knew that without the $20 co-pay.

So after giving him motrin tonight to try and help his gums feel better I was resolved to make him cry it out for a while before we went to rescue him.  The biggest problem that we’re having with “rescuing” him is that it’s not helping.  We put him down and it’s just like we’ve reset the crying counter back to zero.  But after watching him on the monitor for a little while I just had to go and see if I could do something.

The worst thing about this is that there isn’t really a rhyme or reason.  He sleeps fine during nap time and, with the exception of last night, he sleeps good once he gets to sleep at bedtime.  It’s just that initial going to bed part that’s the problem.  And the thing is that he doesn’t start crying until he sits himself up.  Then he goes back and forth between sitting up, bending at the waist to lay down on top of his legs, and laying down on his tummy.  All the while going between screaming at the top of his lungs, sniffling, and crying sadly.

When he first started doing this we would go up eventually and rock him.  I would try to feed him and he wouldn’t be interested.  We would sing and sway and do anything we could think of to help settle him down.  And then one night we found that just going up and flipping him onto his back made him go almost immediately to sleep.  This hasn’t been the magic bullet that we were hoping for, sometimes we have to flip him back a few times before it takes, but almost always once we flip him onto his back he calms down and goes to sleep.  The crazy thing is that he can flip himself from his tummy to his back but it’s like in the dark he forgets how to do it.

So I just spent some time just out of his eyesight behind his crib.  I stood there and watched his little legs kick in the air.  I listened to his sniffles dry up and him become happy holding the puppy that’s a recent addition to his crib.  And then without warning he would flip himself onto his tummy and start wailing.  So I would jump in, put him back on his back, and jump back out of eyesight.

I’m not really a metaphor kind of girl and I don’t typically look for a deeper meaning in situations but I was struck as I was standing there watching my son, just out of his eyesight but close enough that I could swoop in and make things better in just a few seconds, how close God is to me when I’m struggling.  I thought about how I will be in a situation of my own choosing (i.e. flipped myself onto my tummy) and God will sometimes stand back to see if I can figure out how get myself out of it.  He’ll watch in the wings and see if I will use the things that he’s taught me (the ability to turn back over) to right myself or if I’ll just flail around in my desperation not seeing the easy way to fix the problem.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget when I was little and my Mom told me that no matter how much she and my Dad loved me that God loved me even more.  I can still see the brown and white checked wallpaper in our kitchen as she told me that.  I understood that on some level before I had kids but after it became so fresh in my mind.  The amount of love that I have for Charlotte and James is overwhelming.  I would, literally, do anything for them.  And yet, God loves them more than that.  God loves ME more than that.  How spectacular is that?

God doesn’t promise that he will always step in to make things right.  Sometimes he leaves us to cry it out so that we can learn and grow.  But even in our crying and desperation he is just out of the wings watching over us and taking care of us so that we can’t get too far into the pit.  He might not physically flip us back over but he will throw us lifelines that, if we’re looking for them, will allow us to bring ourselves back to safety and the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

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