I hold my baby every night until he falls asleep. He’s seven months old and a complete Mama’s boy. Seriously. JD tried to put him back to bed without me last night and had to lay down beside his crib and hide his face so that Little-Bit would quit craning his head to look for me. I won’t pretend this doesn’t make my heart smile just a little. There’s something endearing about knowing I’m his favorite person in the world.
We have a routine before bed that involves bath-time and teeth-brushing. He loves both. But my favorite part is pulling him close in “Mommy’s bed,” inhaling that soft baby-scent that wafts off his just-washed hair, and feeling his rapid heartbeat slow to a steady tap-tap-tap. Sometimes I sing to him. Sometimes I shhh in his ear. Sometimes I find one steady tone that harmonizes with the drone of the box-fan and hum against his forehead. All the time, I’m watching for that one tell, when he sighs from his toes and then relaxes into me. Then I scoop him up, lay him in his own bed, and tip-toe softly away congratulating myself on a job well done.
Blame a tiny tummy, teething, feeling too hot or cold, or separation anxiety, but Little Bit inevitably ends up sleeping in Mommy’s bed before the end of the night. Don’t get me wrong–we’ve tried to foster a little more independence in him, but the two times we’ve attempted anything remotely resembling “Crying-it-Out” were disastrous. The first time I steeled my nerves and told myself to ignore the crying, I ended up holding him while he whimpered in his sleep. The second time, he would settle and start up again, and I finally discovered he had a metal pacifier clip digging into the back of his head. Little Bit doesn’t settle when he cries–he just works himself up more. Conversely, he settles almost immediately when he’s in my arms.
One day he will be a teenager and not have any desire to be cuddled against me before bed. I won’t have him forever; so I will hold my baby while he wants me. What grabs my heart so much is the way he reaches for me in his sleep. I begin to pull back and he loops his leg around mine. Or he digs tiny fingers into my arms. It’s as if, even in his sleep, his little body is saying that–as long as he maintains contact with me–nothing can hurt him. And to a point, he’s right. Although I’ve never sat him down and explained this to him, I am fully prepared to protect him with my life.
If only we understood this about God–that we don’t have to try to protect ourselves when we are holding onto Him with both hands (and feet). Nothing can touch us without first going through Him. My son is too young to understand that I can’t always keep him from pain. He doesn’t know why I stand by and let a nurse give him vaccinations, or force him to struggle on his tummy to develop upper body strength. However, he always settles when I hold him because he trusts me. And, in turn, I pray that Jesus will shield him from unnecessary pain.
I believe God only allows pain in our lives because of what it produces in our character. We don’t understand because our thoughts are not His, but we have the assurance that He will hold us through it all. We just need to learn to trust with the faith of a child.