Cohen has of late becoming a sometimes-napper, much to my dismay. In one week my little man went from a regular three hour afternoon nap to an every-other-day one hour nap. It is like he knows his third birthday is only weeks away. I tried to tell him that no matter how big he feels, he still needs a nap. He just looked at me. And then proceeded to lie awake in his bed for two hours.
He is my child.
So with the lack of nap time, we’ve been getting to bed earlier than in times past. And who am I kidding? That was early too. No one would mistake us for a couple of night owls.
He got on his striped Thomas the Train pajamas, his pull up (though he insists he wants to his “wear wears” (underwear) and can keep dry all night), and I pour his last half apple juice/half water sippy cup of the day. I climb into bed and wait as he digs through the giant box of books in the corner of the room. He has to find just the right one. I want to be impatient, but I know I do the same thing, so I keep my mouth closed and am nearly at a giggle a moment later. He’s on his tippy toes and still coming up short. He pulls a book out, examines the cover with a thoughtful “hmm” and puts it back. This goes on for awhile until he finds the Fraggle Rock Book he wanted Waggleby of Fraggle Rock, one of my childhood reads.
He holds it up for me to see and bounds into the bed next to me. He arranges my arms just where they need to be to maximize his comfort, my ability to turn pages, and his ability to see said pages. We have this down to a science. I read all about the unwanted cave creature that worms his way into the heart of Boober, the worrier fraggle.
Co knows what is coming on each page and jumps in just ahead of me on every line.
I finish and he settles in for some snuggle time until he’s asleep. I tell him over and over to close his eyes and he squints them as tightly as he can and then opens one eye to see if I am watching.
Eventually he quits opening them and I started to read the memoir I have been savoring in the evenings. I get engrossed in the book and fail to notice that he’s sitting up, picking at a scab.
Last week before the snow set in and then the rain, there was a beautiful, sunny almost 60 degree day and Cohen and I made the most of it by working in the yard at our new house. I took Co’s big dump trucks, his tricycle and his lawn mower/bubble blower to keep him occupied. When I pull out my tools (hedge trimmer, clipper, and chainsaw) he immediately wants his tools. Mommy fail moment- of course he’d want what I had. He crosses his arms and whines for a moment but then goes to playing with what I had brought him.
Our new yard is a half acre, which is great for the convenience of living in town. I am not used to cars driving so close though so I spend the better part of the day telling Cohen to get back up into the yard, though he’s 10 or more feet from the yard’s edge. I spend the day thinking about how great a fence will be. Cohen plays on the concrete u-shaped driveway and I clear about a quarter of the yard, repenting of wanting the house on 2+ acres. This is enough for me, I think.
The next day I noticed all of the deep scratches on my legs and how sore the palm of my right hand is from the chainsaw.
Cohen is picking at a scab and when I realize it, I tell him to lie down and close his eyes. Instead he stands up and points out the one scratch he got on the sunny day before the rain and snow came. It was almost healed, but he scratched it open again.
“My ouchie on my leg hurts, Mommy.” I look, but apparently not with enough concern on my face. “Real BAD,” he adds with great emphasis.
I put my book down and tell him to come closer. I kiss the ouchie that hurts real bad. Instantly, Co’s furrowed McDonald brow relaxed and the sweetest sincere smile crept over his face. “All better now, Mommy,” and then with a kiss, “thanks, Mommy. I love you.”
He laid down and closed his eyes and in a moment his breathing evened and deepened. And while he fell asleep, I was left thinking.
My sophomore year of college I lived with three beautiful girls in a three bedroom apartment off of Woodman Dr. in Dayton. I had a room to myself- the smallest room, but all mine. I got teased about my hard futon bed that I always kept in the couch position and how I would sleep with no blankets, no pillow and with the AC unit at my head blasting. I don’t know why I did it or that I ever had before or have since.
For awhile that year I went to counseling at a local church on Tuesday nights. Providentially, Tuesday evenings no one was home until late except for me. Sometimes I came in to the dark, empty town home, hating the silence and the time to be alone with my thoughts. One night, I was particularly glad for it.
I had walked out of counseling…well, stormed might be a more accurate term. I stormed out and I went back in. A few times. And I said some words that would’ve made my mom wash my mouth out with soap.
I came home that night and with the AC blasting and the house quiet a mouse, I finally got out of my ‘gee everything is fine with my issues’-pretend-“Christian”-stance and into the raw emotion of some things that had happened to me. If you’ve ever been so angry you could not real think or see, then you might have a context to understand how hours and hours passed without my knowing. I cried, I yelled, I fell on the floor, I read my Bible, I cursed myself and God and my parents and then wept behind the floodgates of what had been opened.
My housemates, bless their souls, must have come home at some point and heard my ranting and raving and just closed their doors and gone to bed… because when I woke up late for everything the next afternoon, I saw the evidence that they had been home and gone again. I came out of the room looking like I had been in a war, which I kind of had been. Mascara stained my face and spot of carpet on the floor, where I had woken up. Carpet impressions were deep on one side of my face. I was aching all over, I had a headache…. but something in me had gotten free.
Later on when I would try to explain to others who had experienced the same things that got me into counseling in the first place, I would find myself unable to pin the right words on that night and what exactly had happened. No, God didn’t answer any of the questions I harpooned at Him. No, I didn’t feel like everything suddenly made sense. No, the all important ‘why’ had not been satisfied.
But I had been heard.
At some point in the wee hours of the morning, my voice was hoarse and physical exhaustion got the better of me. I crumbled to the floor and stayed this time. With little energy left for angry cries, tears leaked out one by one, trailing down my cheek. I was cold from the AC, but too tired to move another muscle. And that’s when I noticed His Presence… quiet, not intrusive, but unmistakably there.
He had heard me…. and more impressively, He was still there.
When I was a little girl I had trouble falling asleep and my parents would often take turns rubbing my back and playing with my hair while I laid on my stomach in the dark, willing myself to rest.
That’s the best way to tell you what He was like in the wake of my angry tirade.
He didn’t say anything, but He was there and He stoked my hair and hummed songs of redemption over me as I drifted into sleep.
Tonight, with Co’s even breathing giving rhythm to the night, I couldn’t help but wonder if kissing ouchies really works…? Scientifically, I am certain no amount of kissing can make pain go away, but watching his face change tonight I have to believe it does something.…
The scratch is still bleeding and is still an open wound. But with a touch from the lips of the mama he knows is crazy about him, he does not seem to mind it a second longer… the ouchie has been dealt with and he can easily settle in and rest peacefully.
A touch from a loved one… it does make a difference, doesn’t it? Just having someone who loves us acknowledge what hurts is at least half of the battle. That night somewhere between 35 and Woodman Dr. that’s what I got. I thought I wanted answers… what I really needed was the One who I now know is crazy about me to listen, to acknowledge, and to touch.
I think about Elijah often… how after such tremendous victories, he ran fearfully into the wilderness, where God caused the ravens to feed him and where God gave him the rest his soul longed for. I think about him ranting and raving about all that he had done for God and how he had lived right and how still all kinds of bad people had done bad, unfair things to him. And I think about how God came to him in the deep calm, with a quiet voice, listened to him and sent him back out to fulfill what God had purposed for him.
“In my distress [when seemingly closed in] I called upon the Lord and cried to my God; He heard my voice out of His temple (heavenly dwelling place) and my cry came before Him, into His [very] ears.” Psalm 18:6
Isn’t that good news for all of us with “ouchies” that need to be dealt with?