He will never learn how to fall asleep without me rubbing his back, I told myself. He will be 13, and I will still be sitting next to his twin mattress gently rubbing his back every night. At least I won’t be leaning over a crib with an aching back at that point, right? Small silver lining?
Now, I knew at that moment, somewhere in the back of my head, that what I was predicting probably wasn’t true. But, in that period of sleeplessness and multiple night wakings, it definitely seemed like this stage would last forever. Now, I am remembering all the other times I have felt like this before. The screaming stage, when my middle son couldn’t communicate and was frustrated by that fact, seemed to last forever too. I remember the “projectile spitting up” stage. Then there was the “drooling so much during the cold winter months that you have to change the baby’s outfit multiple times a day so he can just stay warm” stage. Oh, and that phase when they are eating more solids and thus they go through the “every diaper change is a very smelly diaper change” stage.
In fact, during that first year of life for my kids, it felt like each week brought something new. And while struggles with sleep, eating, sickness, and teething all seemed overwhelming in the moment, and that life would never get better, if I waited just a few days, or a month or two later, the issue in question would be resolved.
“This too shall pass.” That’s the phrase I repeat on autopilot some days – most days – of that first year with a baby. Now, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do about what’s happening with your child. And saying, “This too shall pass,” isn’t an excuse to ignore every problem assuming that time will heal all ills. For example, if your baby is having trouble sleeping, there may be some ways you can help him sleep better. And it’s probably a good idea to do some research and experiment. But, in many cases, even if you have a good idea about what is causing the issue and how to fix it, the problem won’t go away overnight.
I often try to think of Servant of God Walter Cizek when I’m going through a trying stage with my baby. Cizek felt called to leave the United States and serve God as a missionary in Russia right before World War II. Instead, he was captured, charged falsely, and kept in either solitary confinement or hard labor camps for more than 20 years. He writes about how he discovered that God’s will for him was present in whatever was set before him — whether it was every moment in solitary confinement, or every moment of hard labor. While my sufferings and frustrations in dealing with overtired and gassy babies are very small and not traumatic compared to his, the principle remains the same. I can find God’s will in every day that this stage does NOT pass. The grumpy, tired baby and mama can praise God in the morning after making it through another night, knowing this will not last forever, but it is life right now.
Servant of God Walter Cizek, thank you for your encouragement to embrace every moment knowing that this stage, this day, and this life too shall pass.