January 6th was a mementos day in our household. It was the culmination of weeks of build-up, anticipation, and maybe just a little dread. This event had been long discussed and debated in regard to exact time it should take place, but finally on Saturday we decided the moment was right. It was time to make the transition. It was time for Marianna to sleep in her big girl bed.
I think Nathan and I both sensed the impending storm, and subconsciously we put it off, hoping that something would prevent our being able to go over to my parents and retrieve all of the furniture we purchased back in the summer from their attic. In the end, we didn’t end up moving everything over until late Saturday night, and by the time the crib was finally disassembled and the new bed was up in its place, it was 11:00 p.m. We tucked a very cheerful, and strangely wide-awake, Marianna into the bed. We kissed her goodnight, turned out the lights, shut the door, and let the battle of the wills commence.
We eventually lost count of the number of times Marianna emerged from her room over the next hour, but I would guess she made somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 appearances. We held firm and won out in the end, but the battle took its toll on all involved. Honestly, I found that the hardest part of the entire ordeal was trying to keep a straight face in the midst of her numerous- and I might add extremely creative- attempts to avoid what we had told her she must do: remain in her room.
Since Saturday the battles have become progressively less lengthy, although we’ve had a naptime flare up or two that were certainly notable, but the entire experience has given me a lot to chew on. I’m beginning to think that God allows parents a special glimpse of His perspective in being our Heavenly Father. I know I’ve already seen on a small scale the magnitude of what God did for us by allowing Jesus to leave Heaven and come here to Earth. I think letting go of Poppy helped me to understand that as best as my mind can comprehend. As I've said before, having Poppy has changed my perspective and given me new lenses through which to see everything, including parenting. Because of this, I’m seeing in a new and fresh way how many aspects of raising my child can shed light on the way God sees us.
What has stood out to me over the past few days is how clearly I can see myself and my relationship with God mirrored in Marianna’s antics. Maybe what stands out above all else is my stubbornness. When this first occurred to me, I bucked up against the thought, but the more I considered, the more I realized how accurate the picture really was. I may not be as openly defiant, but just as Marianna tells us by her actions exactly what she thinks about our plan for her, I subtly do the same to God when He tells me what His best is for me. Marianna has showed me that there are a number of ways to do this, and I’ll share just a few of my favorites.
1. Rationalization: Marianna has mastered this technique. My favorite example of this happened that first night. She tiptoed out of her room, shut the door with her finger to her lips, and told us that she had to leave her room because she had put her book to bed. I believe in her mind she had come up with an airtight case for avoiding bedtime: she could not stay in her room because she would obviously disturb her book by doing so! I think my excuses must sound just as silly to God, as I make arguments that are so sound and logical in my own head, but in the end are just attempts at avoiding what He has told me is best.
2. Blame: Yesterday as I was sitting on the couch waiting to see if Marianna would go down for her nap, I saw her bedroom door swing open. When I questioned her about it, she immediately yelled out “Chum did it!” The fact that the dog could never have opened the door if she had not first cracked it for him didn’t occur to her. But once again, I see now how I do the exact same thing. I blame other circumstances (fear, intimidation, anger, busyness, etc) for preventing me from doing what God wants, but I don’t acknowledge that I am the one who opened up the door and allowed something to come in and get a foothold in my life in the first place.
Many more examples come to mind, but I think you see the point. Yet, as I’ve struggled with Marianna over the past few days, what I’ve felt stronger than anything else is my love for her. Her disobedience and stubbornness hasn’t lessened my love for her one iota. In fact, it’s allowed me to see just how much I love her. I want what’s best for her, so even though I hate when she cries and I hate when I have to punish her, I do it because I love her. So it is with God. If you have ever struggled with knowing how God can love you in spite of what you do, consider your children. I realize now that there is nothing Marianna could do to make me love her less. And God tells us that he loves us with a love that is greater and deeper than that with which we are capable of loving our own children. Nothing could sum it up better than John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave is only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”