It's been quite a month really, and quite a year.
In the past 3 weeks we have had high fever viruses leading to bronchitis and an ear infection, and Saturday morning I entered The Dude's room like I always do at 3:30 am when he was crying for me, and found his bed soaked in vomit. Oh goody. The 3rd time in 6 months we've had this experience, although at least this time I wasn't sharing the bed with him.
We were up from 3:30 am on, since he spent the next couple of hours watching yo gabba gabba and "modern marvels: the monster truck" and vomiting some more. Aquaman joined us at 4:45 since he woke up crying, and I was afraid he was going to join in the puke party.
By 7 am when JT left for work, and I sat down to write in my prayer journal, all that came out was: "it feels like every time we stagger to our feet, we get knocked back down again."
We're tired. Trying to wean in the midst of nonstop illness feels pointless, not to mention wearying. There has been a lot of crying in the middle of the night. A lot of The Dude taking my face in his hands and shouting "no!" at me. He's mad. His comfortable and comforting nights at his favorite all night diner are coming to an end. He doesn't know that, even though he is saying goodbye to something good. He is also coming in to something better.
I'll admit it's been shrouded by my own ambivalence, but it has made me much more merciful towards him in it.
Nursing, though quite literally draining, has been one of the greatest joys of mothering young children for me. The comfort and connection. The few minutes of silence. The side view smiles.
As always, I don't know what the future holds. This may well be the last few weeks that I nurse a child. A part of me is intensely relieved, and a part of me isn't quite so sure.
Which is why I can understand when The Dude gets a little controlling in the middle of the night. Ordering me to turn on the music, then turn it off. To get him some water, and then to put it away. Life is changing, and he feels like he's losing control. So he grasps at anything he CAN control.
I can identify with that.
We're coming out of 2012. A year I easily described as one of the best of my life. So far, of 2013, I can't really say the same.
It seems to be a year of transition and change. And let's be honest, when things are going well, who wants change?
But changing seasons is a reality of life.
And this year has been feeling a little wintery. The cold. The weariness. The uncertainty.
The physical pain.
I've been forced to scale back a little. I've started laying down over the weekends during The Dude's naps. I've had to turn a blind eye to the dust bunnies in the corner.
And Sunday, as I lay in a heap on the floor after the virus to end all viruses hit Aquaman and I at the exact same time, when we still had 3 hours before JT would be home- I realized something.
My family seems to be under attack right now.
This year there has been physical injury and illness, loads of career uncertainty, and personal self-image struggles.
We are reeling and tired.
So this morning I read Proverbs 31.
It's where I always go when I don't know where to go, who I'm supposed to be. Honestly, in my exhaustion, she has been bothering me again. How does she do so much without wearing down? That's a whole other blog entry.
But the verse I read today, was Proverbs 31:21
"She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet."
In the literal sense, as I've always taken it, the Proverbs 31 woman takes care of her family. They are prepared for the winter: financially and otherwise.
But I remember the other day reading someone's suggestion that perhaps, like many verses of the Bible, there is a figurative meaning to this verse as well:
It's winter here, 80 degree Florida March, but it's winter. And I don't have to be afraid of the snow that falls. Not because we're prepared with warm clothes and amenities, but because my household has been covered by the scarlet blood of Jesus.
I remember the story of Rahab, who kept the Israelite spies in her home. Her family was spared destruction when she left a scarlet cord outside of her home.
So I'm remembering that there's nothing to fear. Sometimes I get so caught up in God's omnipotence and all-knowing that I forget that this was not how things were meant to be. He did not intend His creation to stagger around in confusion and difficulty. Yes, it is still better than we deserve, as sinners. But it's not His intention. That's why He sent His son to die for us. And it means we're not always protected from things like norovirus and identity crises. But we can be protected from the fear of those things. And from the discouragement that creeps up into our hearts when we can't seem to catch a break.
And this is one calling of women that I do not find daunting. I have only to clothe my family in the blood of Jesus. To pray for my husband and children. To point them all to Jesus.
To climb into the safety and refuge and everlasting comfort of His arms.
"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters."
I guess it's because I've always derived so much Heavenly comfort from the outdoors, but this is always my go-to verse in times of distress. I was praying it while I was cleaning up 4 year old vomit and swallowing my own. (this is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime, I feel certain that my confidence level has increased by having survived it).
I think I like it because it reminds me what He wants for us. Peace in our souls. The kind you feel when you take a walk and listen to the way the birds chirp. The way you feel when you look out over a large body of water.
It's realizing that life is much better when we forget about ourselves for a while. Our troubles and failures. And remember the God who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations." Psalm 65:7
It is God who stills the waters, and then leads us beside them. I can feel the end of the winter coming. We're clothed in scarlet, and we'll soon be walking by quieted waters.