I have thought this thought a thousand times in the past month. When I'm crawling out of bed to nurse a crying babe who just ate less than an hour ago but the burning acid in his throat makes him want comfort food yet again. When I'm sleeping in a chair in the wee hours of the morning because my reflux baby just can't breathe lying down from all the congestion that's accumulated overnight. When I'm starving from breastfeeding hunger and all of a sudden the toddler wants food stat, the dryer is ringing off with good clothes that can't wrinkle, and the newborn wakes up screaming when you thought he'd sleep at least another half hour.
These are such small crosses. So why do they feel so heavy?
Because I haven't slept more than two hours straight in weeks...and I'm lucky if I catch two sets of two hours per night. Sleep deprivation will show you the worst of you. It will take you to mental and emotional depths of despair (you know it, Anne Shirley) that you hadn't known you could reach. Some days you'll feel like a robot, utterly disconnected from everyone you love, even that sweet and precious new baby.
It's hard, guys. It's so hard. I wrestle with the fact that this suffering is so small compared to others. I recently read this book and I can't begin to think of the suffering of those living through WWII, especially in the concentration camps. We don't have chronic or terminal diseases. We've had church family and friends (even blogger friends) shower us with prayers and love and support and meals (someone even paid for an appointment for our son and made me cry with gratitude). For goodness sake, our cross is in the form of a beautiful, beloved child when so many of our friends are suffering from infertility.
But this is me. Stripped of all pride that I'm doing this motherhood thing well and right. I'm simply surviving and hoping for resolution. Hoping for guidance and healing and grace...for my little man's pain-- and for the ugly parts of me that have surfaced in the struggle.
Yet there's the smallest part of me that desperately wants to whisper tentatively that maybe...just maybe...sometimes I am doing this motherhood thing right and well. That the stress arguments with my husband, the resentment that the baby is crying yet again, and the bitterness toward God for not helping us in my timing versus His...that those things happen less often than the smiles and strength (and even a few laughs) between my husband and I as we share the load and remind each other we'll get through this. The times that I snuggle and sing and play with my daughter and my son and feel their soft skin and hold them close and memorize their faces and know that this is true gift. The hundred times I've gently rocked my son close and spoken softly to him telling him that I'm here, I'm here for him in his pain.
In another book I'm reading, Fr. Mike Schmitz speaks of the importance of remembering in our suffering that we are part of something bigger. Even in the most isolated crosses, we are a part of a larger plan and those crosses can have meaning and purpose. Nothing is wasted. We must have hope in this. Not a false optimism but a deep, abiding hope that God is with us in the hardest moment and He is bringing us through it. That He is using it for greater good. Not in our way or our time, but His. And He is good.
So I hold on to that. In the hard moments that I cannot think straight from fatigue and the days feel like a blur of caring for these tiny humans and figuring out how to help one of them feel better, I will remember that we are part of something bigger. My children will grow up to (hopefully) contribute to this world and be with all of us and the Lord in the next. Our little home is a launching pad for a mission we cannot see during these days. Only God knows. But He is with us and He is at work. We may not see Him center stage during our sufferings, but we can trust He is behind the scenes.