Whoever said parenting squelches your night life never had kids like mine.
My eyelids popped open, startled out of sound sleep. Slowly, the hazy shape of a youngster appeared at my bedside, clutching a pillow in one hand and a doll in the other. She started to cry.
“What is it, sweetheart? What’s wrong?”
“My tummy hurts!”
Oh, boy. Here we go. I whipped off my covers and slapped two bare feet to the floor. With a hand on the small of her back, I led my five-year-old first to the bathroom for a Tums, then to the family room sofa. I tucked her beneath a warm blanket and stationed a bucket on her lap, just in case. Then I camped on the floor for the next two hours while she dozed on and off.
Nurse Mom sees plenty of nighttime action.
My kids wake at midnight from coughing fits and scary dreams.
They tiptoe to my bedroom in pitch darkness to inform me they need to go potty.
They crawl out of bed in tears because they can’t find a favorite stuffed animal tucked deep beneath the covers. They expect me to find it.
They talk in their sleep.
The bump their heads on the wall.
They’re hungry. So they tap my shoulder at 2 a.m. asking for a snack.
Sometimes they just want to know if it’s morning yet and can they please watch TV?
No, no you cannot. Not at 3 o’clock in the blessed a.m. Please go back to bed. Mommy needs her sleep.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship,” (Romans 12:1).
Have you ever thought of fatigue as worship? It never crossed my mind, until a friend described her approach to surviving newborn feedings. “Every time the baby woke me up to eat,” she explained, “I prayed, ‘Lord, this is my sacrifice to you.’”
Think about that for a minute. Sleep loss is part of the parenting deal. Babies eat round the clock. Toddlers suffer night terrors. Teens drive the car to the basketball game. So we worry. We ache. We stay up too late scouring Pinterest or dropping JPGs into photo books because there is no earlier quiet time to indulge.
Energy is a luxury.
But this tired body, these burning, bloodshot eyeballs, these maniac tears dripping from pure exhaustion. Could it be? It’s all an offering of thanks—to the One who granted me the gift of motherhood.
Yes, my children mutate me into a zombie some days. But would I trade them for a lifetime of peaceful slumber?
“Sweetheart, how does your tummy feel?” I leaned over the sofa and brushed disheveled locks of hair away from my daughter’s eyes. Stiff muscles in my neck rebelled against their makeshift cot on the floor.
“Better.” She cracked a weak smile.
“Do you want to go back to your bed? You’d be more comfortable there.”
“No, Momma. I want to sleep in your bed.”
Of course. So do I.
I scooped her off the sofa and carried her to my room. She snuggled into the center of our king-size mattress and fell fast asleep. I listened to the gentle rhythm of her breathing, inhaled the scent of her strawberry shampoo, and watched her cheeks glow in the moonlight.
Sleep? Sometimes it’s overrated. In all my years of childless freedom, I never saw a nighttime scene so spectacular as this.
A few hours later, I woke to sunlight peeking through the window blinds—and the dull pressure of a foot shoved against my forehead. My daughter’s lanky limbs sprawled perpendicular across the bed.
Well, Lord, I thought, this is my crazy life. My sacrifice to you.
I am blessed beyond measure.