Love, Joleen: Transitions

Saturday, September 13, 2014


When I started this post, I had intended to share peeks of our progress in Benjamin's "big boy" room and talk about the transition to his new toddler bed. I also need to talk about another transition - one that is happening in me. If  you follow me on Instagram, you've seen some of the changes we've been making to his room in the last few weeks, and you also know that we made the transition to the toddler bed over Labor Day weekend. I nervously posted for prayer on my Facebook page that  first night and the entire event was... well, uneventful. Benjamin went to sleep in his bed, without any issues at all. I felt a little bit like I was in a twilight zone. Like, how can this be? The next day and the second "new bed" experience would be his naptime. Again, not one issue. Most of the week passed this way. Not one time did he get out of bed and there were no tears involved. He would sleep, and when he woke up, he would sit on his bed and yell for me to come get him. It was awesome. 

I have no idea what happened. 

At the end of last week we missed a couple of naptimes because we were in the car coming home from various playdates and parties, when he fell asleep. Those car naps (the worst, if you ask me!) meant that no real naps were taking place at home. Benjamin is an epic napper and can sleep up to 4 hours in a single stretch. I know, it's divine. Having a 20 minute car nap take the place of a 2+ hour nap wasn't fun for anyone involved. Then, this week happened. I have no idea why, but he's decided he cannot sleep in his bed. Naps became hours-long battles. Some days this week he even refused to nap with me, in my bed, which is normally always a good back up plan. I know around this age some kids boycott their naps, but I know my son well enough to know that that isn't what this was. He was exhausted. He was cranky. I was cranky. I was taking it personally and it was making me angry. I know that sounds totally harsh and out of proportion, but it's how I was feeling. I didn't know what to do. 

Nighttime wasn't any better. Benjamin was wanting 20+ kisses from each of us and there were never enough things in his bed with him. The child practically had a library and toy store in his bed. He would cry and scream before we ever even left the room. We tried lying down with him and eventually brought him to our bed. We tried white noise, music, a brand new nightlight. For three days I was miserable. I felt out of control and unsettled. 

And then God started working in me in such a huge way.

Growing up I was always scared to pray for patience. I knew that in order to learn patience, you had to have opportunities to learn patience. That's a really scary thing. Who wants to invite tribulation into their life? Not me, that's for sure. But, here I was in the midst of a pretty trying time. [Let me just interject to acknowledge that there are FAR WORSE things in life. I totally get that and appreciate that. I know in my heart of hearts, AT ALL TIMES, that I am truly blessed. In the interest of transparency and because this is my blog, I am sharing our struggles, and parenting struggles ARE struggles.] I started praying to God to give me patience; to help me to love my son through whatever he was going through. The most amazing thing happened: 

God started changing me.

Benjamin's bedtime behavior only continued to get worse over the next couple of days, but you know what? I was okay. I remained calm. I was, dare I say, happy, through it all. I would lay with him and pray for him to find comfort and to sleep. We would try everything to help him and when it didn't work, and through it all, I stayed calm. And I just kept thanking God. I was thanking him for my beautiful, healthy son. Thanking him for the opportunity to be his mother. Thanking him for breaking me and building me back up. Thanking him for giving me opportunities for growth. For teaching me patience and a love I never could have imagined. For keeping me calm in my frustration [because it was still frustrating]. 
After a sleepless Thursday night and a busy Friday morning, the two of us enjoyed a [much needed] four hour nap together. Bedtime still required my husband and I to lie partially in his bed for an hour while he settled down and fell asleep. It's a far cry from the ease of bedtime in days past, but we're getting somewhere! I feel hopeful. I feel peace. I am calm enough to see us outside of this situation and to remember how fleeting this season in our lives truly is. I think there is a reason that the well-known section of verses about love in 1 Corinthians begins with, "Love is patient..." [1 Cor. 13:4] It's probably no coincidence that my devotional last night included these verses on the Fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..."
And so I feel that God is helping me become a more virtuous woman this week - giving me so many opportunities to be a more patient mama. I'm trying to live up to His confidence in me. 

Romans 5:1-5 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

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