You Don’t Fit Your Children Around Your Life, You Fit Your Life Around Your Children

I have been looking forward to the new sermon series at church so much. However, sometimes things don’t always go according to planned.

No other children in the nursery coupled with a fairly rough morning for Oliver meant zero patience with being left in the nursery. It happens, I know. However, I didn’t even know he was upset until I was on my way to the children’s room to ask Jhavonn a question. That’s when I heard Oliver having a crying meltdown with hiccups and everything saying “I wost Mama. I wost Mama.” (wost = lost)

Oh, my heart. It broke.

I gave him about a minute, just to make doubly sure I was needed and understanding his cry, and that my hormones weren’t getting the best of me, before I walked in. When I entered the nursery, I saw him sitting on the couch in the adjoining room. I’m not sure why he was sitting there, but maybe he wanted to be alone. He saw me and didn’t even react immediately. Just looked at me with silent hiccups shaking his tiny body.

Did I  mention my heart broke?

I wondered what was going through his mind. Disbelief? Did he think I wouldn’t come for him? Shock? That I was finally there? I don’t know. I found it strange that his reaction was to wait a moment and gauge the situation before jumping up and coming to me. When he did, I sat in a chair and he crawled into my lap. His crying stopped and all that remained were hiccups and a few sad mumbles. It took a while for us to understand why he was so upset (again, probably the lack of friends to distract). After several minutes he was ready to get down and play like usual, which was reassuring.

I don’t fault Ms. Marilyn and Jhavonn for saying he’d be fine and trying to help him calm down without getting me. Instead, I’m incredibly thankful that I had a question for Jhavonn that led me to head back toward that part of the church. It would have absolutely broken my heart to know that he cried himself into calmness. That he would have soothed himself by thinking I wasn’t coming for him. This isn’t a kid who just didn’t want to be in the nursery. This is a kid who has recently begun recovering from separation anxiety. Just this month he began staying in the nursery on his own after 2 years of having one of us in there with him every Sunday. I figure this could’ve been a test for him, or it could’ve been a test for me/us. I rather it be one for me/us. I know that there will be times when he’s in preschool or something, when he wants me and he’s upset, and I won’t always be able to go and get him. I might never know he had an upsetting time.

But for the times I do know, I want him to have me.

I want him to have me come to him, if he so desires, so he can be reassured and comforted. I don’t want him to discover after 30-45 min that I’m not “wost,” but in another room. I want him to know immediately that I will do what I promised. That I will come right back and that I really am just down the hall. I hope that doing something like that will help him during the times I’m not down the hall, but across town and possibly unable to come get him. He needs to know that I’m where I say I am. That if I say he can come to me or if he needs me, that I can make it happen. So when I tell him I’ll be back when the little hand on the clock hits 2, or that I’ll be back after snack time, that I will, in fact, be back around that time.

Some people may think this is spoiling him. People will think all sorts of things. I really don’t care, though. I try to envision how others view this method of parenting, just so I can understand, but this is what works for us.

Quick story, as a result of a house fire when I was 9 years old, I had debilitating separation anxiety. I could hardly function at school and would beg and cry on the way for mom to keep me home. I was so afraid to leave her. I think that separation anxiety is what eventually planted the roots for the panic attacks and severe anxiety that I developed a couple of years later.

Even though his separation anxiety is development based, it doesn’t make it any less scary for him. To him, it’s terrifying. To him, Jhavonn and I are never coming back. We’re lost. He doesn’t know that he’ll get past this stage. He doesn’t know that it’s normal. It’s up to us to know those things and help him find the finish line, so he can be a confident child who is capable of doing things on his own in his own time. It isn’t about convenience or inconvenience. We gave up the concept of that when we made the choice to have children.We are firm believers in changing your life when you have children. You don’t fit your children around your life. You fit your life around your children.

So, while I may have missed the start of the sermon series, I think I found a different way to worship and give thanks this morning. I did what I was called to do. Be a mom. I tended to him in his time of need. I comforted him. I consoled him. I gave him confidence and hopefully a bit of understanding. I have not been very patient with him lately, but today I was full of patience. I was not angry, I was not tired, I was not frustrated. A bit sad to miss the sermon, of course, but I felt like I was absolutely where I needed to be in that moment in time.

You don’t fit God or your children around your life. You fit your life around God and your children.

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