Jostled from a contented sleep into that nearly awake fog, I imagine it must be somewhere in the 3 AM hour. I don’t want to actually look at the clock, first because I am legally blind without my glasses and the energy it would take to sit up, lean in and squint at the clock to make out the time would just wake me up more, and second because I don’t want to be disappointed. If it’s 3 o’clock then I potentially have another 4 hours of sleep, if it’s 5 o’clock then only 2 more hours sleep until GT (that’s Grace Time) GT is the 7 o’clock hour when my toddler wakes singing each morning ready to begin her day. She actually has a onesie with the phrase “mommy’s little alarm clock.” A phrase some 65-year-old made up as they harkened back to the days their own children woke them like clock-work, as they now laugh at the current generation of mommies and daddies stumbling bleary eyed into the nursery each morning, while they themselves sip a 10 o’clock cup of Starbucks about to tee-off on the first hole. Will I be that lucky? To some day give Grace’s child some clothing article with the same phrase as I chuckle knowingly at what lies ahead with the relentless internal alarm of children. Right now half of my mornings I feel like I am 15 again pleading with my mom for “just 5 more minutes,” only I am pleading with a toddler who’s only understanding of “five” is to slap your hand and giggle. I find it ironic that in these early years we would love for our children to sleep more, and by the time they hit 15 we are dragging them out of bed as they yelp and plead for “just five more minutes.”
As I try to find my way back to sleep at the ?-o’clock hour, my mind is intruded upon by the repetitive rhythm of “The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout….” This is Gracie’s new favorite song performed complete with hand motions, I have sung it so much over the last 14 days that it is ingrained in my mind at every waking and sleeping hour to the point of near insanity. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Three months ago it was “the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round….” It’s so maddening it is almost comical, and at some point you just have to embrace the measure of music and have fun with it. Oh, the seasons of life! I remember the days when I woke up in the middle of the night with some other song repeating in my head. Those days when it was “something cool” like Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise or Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road! Now it’s the themes from Elmo’s World and Veggie Tales and finger puppet songs set to the tune of Frair-a-jaka.
My friend Jen and I laugh that you know you have traded in your Teeny-Bopper Card for your Yuppie-Mommy ID when your television goes from being perpetually tuned in on MTV to a 24-7 parking spot at HGTv or Nickelodeon. Somewhere in there we traded in doing Quarterly Progress Reports for the Daily Poop-Report, and our closets are lined with two sets of clothes; for me they are clearly divided into the “Post-Grace-Pants” that are part of my daily wardrobe, and the “Pre-Grace Pants” that I refuse to send off to Goodwill in hopes that I might inch back into them sometime in the near future. And somewhere in the next several decades we will move into the season of excitement over Senior Citizens’ discounts at Denny’s and wondering if it’s time to get a “Life Alert” remote calling system so we too can have someone to call and say “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”
But here I am now caught up in this season of being a late-30’s-mommy-of-a-toddler. The other day I was talking with my sister-in-law about the BIG adventure to the grocery store. I felt her pain as she lamented on what a production it is to get 2 people under the age of 4 together, to and through a run to the store. “Sometimes I just say forget it!” she said, “I’ll go tomorrow when Don can watch the kids and I can go by myself!” And, as I empathized with my sister-in-law I sat there wondering how DO we do it? Then I was reminded of another friend whose children are all grown now, who’s advice was almost like a Nike Ad. “You just do it. And just get through it.” But somehow those words gnaw at me creating an empty feeling inside. I get the visualization of life just rushing by in a blur as I stumble through the motions of laundry, groceries and diaper changes to girl scouts, carpools and proms… and then it’s gone and I am wondering where is my kid? Where is my life? Sorry Nike, but I don’t want to “Just do it.” And with all due respect to my friend and her endurance… I don’t want to “just get through it.”
I want to relish in it. I want to bathe in every season with all its good, fun and fantastic discoveries, but I also want to be able to fully experience each seasons’ negative aspects, and aggravating challenges. I want to sink my teeth into it all and taste every moment. I don’t want to just go through the motions and look back at a blur wondering where it all went. I want to take deliberate steps each day and make memories to cherish, moments to relive in their humorous re-telling, and traditions that warm our bones to joy as we look back on them in years to come. What is each season in life but to be fully alive and immersed in? To be tapped into this adventure and feel every high and low of it. I want to love the season I am in now like I love the four seasons of each year, deliberately drinking in a breath of crisp autumn air, purposefully romping in mounds of winter snows, intentionally squishing my toes in the dewy spring grass and mindfully standing by as the summer ocean sprays its mist on my face. Here is God’s gift… it is in the season of now, and I want my string of nows with Doug and Grace to be purposeful, not some blur of going through the motions.
And so… even in the moments of wanting to throw my hands in the air at the edge of insanity, I find…. Joy as my constant…. The run to the grocery store becomes an exciting “filed trip,” the agonizingly frustrating task of matching the unmatchable freshly laundered socks transforms from a chore to the “great sock puzzle game!” …. “Mommy’s little alarm clock” going off without fail at 7 am each day isn’t just a challenge, it’s a joy because I focus not on my bleary eyes, but instead on my Mini-Pavarotti waking me in song each morning. And yes, even at 3 AM when my mind is insanely spinning with the” Wheels on the Bus” to the point of feeling something like Chinese Water Torture, even that melts away into something I can laugh about!
I don’t want to “just do it”… I Just want to do Joy! And where can that sustainable joy come from but one place? From the Lord, and knowing that no matter where we are in life He has designed each season and even in the roughest, toughest moments, even in times of aggravation or perhaps even illness or anguish- we can do it well, because we harbor a well of Joy in Christ that cannot be taken away! And so our faith in His design of each season frees us from “just getting through it…”; it frees us to Just do Joy!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Give thanks in all things, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.