Tonight, you had trouble sleeping. This is rarely the case, but now that your molars are coming in, falling asleep has become somewhat of a battle. For the last few weeks, it's almost a guarantee that once we put you to bed, you'll be fussing -- tossing your pacifier and blanket out of the crib in protest -- for me or your daddy to come to the rescue. But, honestly, I don't mind. Maybe it's because I'm the mother and I carried, birthed and nursed you, and I miss those sweet newborn moments when I would hold you for long hours at a time without you wanting to escape. Holding you at night is, at once, both tiring and refreshing. It's the sweet relief of knowing you need me still and the hope of rest. The unexplainable joy of intimacy with one's child mixed with the inherit desire for control. And when we sit together in your nursery, cuddled chest to chest, I feel the weight of glory pressed upon me despite the uncertainty that always tries to take over.
Tonight, as always, I set my Pandora station to some acoustic worship music and, rather than trying to cradle you like I did for so many months, let you sit on my lap facing me. This is how your grandmother rocks you to sleep. Your personal sign for "nap" is patting your chest because you know that is the place where you can find rest. I didn't try to make you put your head down or close your eyes, even though it was long past your bedtime. I just let you burn those last few ounces of energy, the evening ones that often seem the most potent. In the dim glow of your night light, you pointed to my ears, then to my nose, then to my head and then to my lips and cooed your almost-toddler question: "What is this, Mama?" I told you, over and over, until you grew tired enough to put your head on my shoulder. At least for a moment.
You don't know this now, but when you're old enough, I'll share it with you: I was incredibly frightened of having a child before, during and after my pregnancy. For a little over half a decade, I have struggled with the reality that I have a penchant for anxiety and depression. I took all the precautions I could while you were still inside my body, careful to consider the toll that pregnancy and childbirth could have on me. The first few days after you were born, two weeks and one day past your due date, were some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life. I knew it was normal, but knowing something doesn't diminish the reality of the experience. Eventually, though, everything settled. And suddenly, all the roles I'd filled in my life up to that point seemed to merge into motherhood. All the nurturing, all the loving, all the praying, all the worrying, all the leading. They were arrows directing me to you, Lucy.
But I still forget that I can fill this role. I forget it every single day. And just when I've reached my limit, you look at me in the dark -- like you did tonight -- and take my hands in yours. You press them to your face, never taking your eyes off me, teaching your mama so much more about love in that simple gesture that my heart aches with the wonder of it. You pat your chest and then pat mine, as if to remind me that we are in this life together, and nothing will ever change that.
Tonight, we listened together as Britt Nicole gave voice to the question inside of me:
How many years did You plan this moment here
To show me how You love me?
God is the God of love, Lucy. He is Love. And while we struggle to comprehend it, as we always will in this life, God has been whispering this truth to my broken, messy heart since I first looked at that positive pregnancy test. And maybe even before then. He knew the fear that would try to trample my spirit, but He also knew that fear is a liar. And one night He would speak to me in a quiet, ordinary moment of motherhood -- in the touch of your tiny, blonde curls, in the warm weight of your body, in the curious expression on your face -- and say what He says best: the truth.
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you."