Sleep Regression and the Patience of God

Well, it's been a quiet season on the blog, although not so much in our lives -- my days are full of caring for a small person and her growing personality, and there's all the regular running of a household and being part of a church community and celebrating holidays with friends and family even as we grieve the losses brought by the past year.

My head is bursting with words and thoughts, but my fingers are a bit out of the habit of writing.  So maybe it's time to get back into it.  

I had no idea that having a child would lead me to think so much about theology, but my goodness, it does.  Loving Isabel is totally different than love that I've experienced before, even though other relationships have held hints of what this type of love is like.  I loved my students; I've loved friends' kids, but it is not the same.  None of those relationships demanded, day after day (and night after night), that I give it my attention, time and energy.  None of the people in those relationships were so totally dependent on me for the very stuff of life: food, clothing, cleanliness, attention.  

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Izzy is three months and a bit, and I'm still the center of her universe.  More noticeably so in some ways now than a few weeks ago; some combination of her first cold, holiday travels that upended routines and familiarity, and the dreaded four-month sleep regression have transformed our chill little bean into a clingy little bean who has veryyyyy little interest or ability to soothe herself to sleep or to wake up calmly.  The past week has looked like lots of snuggling her into naps and curling up next to each other at night.  All things considered, she's handling everything well, but there are nights when I really miss being able to sprawl out on my stomach with her sleeping peacefully for chunks of hours in her own bed.  

As I did some research into what causes the "sleep regression" that many babies go through around three or four months old, I've learned that it actually is a marker of healthy development.  She's shifting from the sleep stages of a newborn into the ones that will be normal for the rest of her life, and it's hard to learn how to cycle through those.  She also has more awareness than ever of her surroundings and more desire for social interaction with anyone who will make faces at her and converse with her -- and consequently, she has an intense fear of missing out on something interesting.  (She's her father's daughter for sure.)

Knowing that this is a normal and healthy phase helps me to cultivate patience with her and the changing rhythms of our days.  She's not being bad or intentionally difficult -- she's growing, and it's good.  And it's challenging.

Thinking about all of this makes me think about the ebb and flow of my relationship with my heavenly Father.  There are times when I feel confident and assured and close to Him.  There are other seasons when I feel more like a fussy little child who isn't sure of much and just wants to feel His presence with  me, to see His face and not have to deal with a moment that I can't cling onto His hand.  I have a tendency to think that those times of confidence are more mature and that it's a fault in me, some childish regression, that I'm not on a linear trajectory.  

I'm reconsidering that.  And I'm reconsidering, relearning, the heart of our Father God, how He is genuinely, not begrudgingly, patient and compassionate and kind.  How He makes His face to shine upon us, and looks upon us with love and affection.  Even as Izzy fusses for me to sit down next to her and let her hold my hand while she drifts off to sleep, God came to us in the incarnation of Jesus, to hold our hands and converse with us face to face, saying, "I'm here.  You're loved.  All will be well."

I'm reminding myself of His kindness over and over, tapping into it to say to Izzy over and over, "You're okay.  I love you.  I'm not leaving you.  You're doing good."


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