Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bedtime Lesson

It's been so long since I've blogged. I've actually started referring to my May/June trip to Ethiopia as "the trip that killed my blog." I still can't adequately process the thoughts and emotions that I experienced, and there's a little part of me that wonders if I'll ever really be able to. If I'm not writing about that, I ask myself, what's the point of writing about anything else? Except that maybe I need to write some things down to remember them later. Things like what happened tonight.

We've been going through a rough season with Sintay for the last few weeks. I don't know exactly what has set it off this time (although I do have some educated guesses), but suffice it to say he has been difficult. He is testing every single thing we say, and I do not react well to that. Add in the fact that I've been sick with a doozy of a sinus infection this week, and we could just chalk this week up under "disaster." Battling with this little dude day in and day out brings to light some serious ugliness in my own heart. Lack of patience? Check. Lack of mercy and grace? Check. Lack of temperance, meekness, love and joy? Check. I may have called David at work one day sobbing that "I can't do this right now!" I may have lost my temper more often than not with one exceedingly whiny, angry little boy. I finally asked for some extra prayer cover from a couple of people and that has helped significantly. (Why oh WHY is that EVER a "finally" moment for me?)

Today, I had the privilege of attending a "women's retreat" at a friend's house. The topic was "Controlling Our Thoughts," and oh my, was it EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. So much good stuff. So much affirmation that I'm not the only one who battles the lies that Satan tries to feed us. So much conviction over areas where I seriously need to do some work....taking every thought (and action) captive to the obedience of Christ. I came away energized and encouraged and thankful.

Then came bedtime. Ugh. Every night, for the last few weeks, bedtime has been a battleground. Yikealo and Sintayehu share a room, and they fight over....well....pretty much everything. If one of them wants the light off, the other one wants it on. If one of them wants the closet door closed, the other one wants it open. They fight over who gets to pray first, and who gets to fetch the Bible that we're reading together, and who's going to hold the bookmark while we read. (Seriously, guys?) We have made rules out of the most ridiculous things, because we don't feel like taking the time to deal with the underlying issues of selfishness and unloving behavior. (Fine! On the odd days of the month, Yikealo prays first. On the even days, Sintayehu prays first. Whoever prays last gets to choose who they lay beside during snuggle time.) In case you're wondering, that doesn't really work either....because soon they're just fighting about the rules instead of what the rules were intended to cover.

So tonight, after all of the pre-bed rigamarole, we tucked them into their beds. David left for a meeting at church, and I went to the kitchen to catch up on three days worth of dishes. I heard lots of kicking and arguing from the bedroom, so I went to lay down the law. "Sintayehu, GET BACK IN BED! Stop climbing up the ladder to bug your brother. I DO NOT want to hear another sound out of this room!"

About 3 minutes later, Yikealo was out in the kitchen. "Mom, he keeps kicking my bed!" I told Yikealo to go lay down in our bed, at which point Sintay started fussing that "It's not fair!" I told him it was his own fault, and he had better not get out of bed again.

10 minutes later, Sintay was out in the kitchen asking if he could close the closet door. Seriously? Just close the door, for crying out loud! Why do you need to walk all the way out here to ask if you can close your own closet? I closed his door, tucked him back into bed, gave him his "special" kiss....the one that helps him to not be afraid, and went back to the kitchen.

15 minutes later, my quiet thoughts were interrupted with "MOM!!"       (Pause)     "MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!"  I head back to the bedroom again. "What do you want, Sintayehu? You are seriously pushing your luck, Bud!" S: "Ummmmmmmm.......I think I heard somebody knocking." Me: "No, you didn't. I am out in the kitchen, right by both doors. Nobody knocked. Everything is fine. You are so tired, Mommy is very close by, nothing is going to happen to you. What is wrong?" S: "I don't know." Me: "Okay, why don't we pray together. The Bible says that perfect love makes fear go away. Do you believe that God loves you? (yes) Do you believe that Mommy loves you? (yes) Okay, than let's pray that God will take the fear away." We prayed together and I headed back to the kitchen.

20 minutes later, Sintayehu nearly made me jump out of my skin when he sneaked up behind me and grabbed my leg. I definitely yelled this time, "WHAT DO YOU WANT???" S: "I'm scared!" (Well so am I now!) I marched him back to bed, moved a soundly sleeping Yikealo from my bed back to his own, and told Sintayehu, "Okay! Your brother is back in your room, he is sleeping, and you had BETTER NOT wake him up! BE QUIET AND GO TO SLEEP!!!" His lip quivered and he squeezed his eyes shut, and I stomped out and closed the door.

And promptly felt terrible. Larisa Joy, who cares if the dishes wait one more day? Your child may be irritating at times, but he is actively seeking a connection with you right now, and you are repeatedly turning him away. Just go hold him. I walked back to Sintay's bed, and asked if he'd like me to rock him for a little bit. He'd been pretending to be sleeping, but when I said the word "rock," he practically threw himself into my arms. I walked out to the living room, sat down in the rocking chair, and wrapped him in a blanket, cuddling him close. He was sound asleep in 3 minutes. I stayed right there for another 10, praying over him, feeling his exhausted little body twitch into deep sleep, watching his lips make the little sucking motions that I imagine are left-over from when he nursed with his birth mom. Why did I almost miss this? Why didn't I try this first? It would have saved both of us a lot of frustration.

I am thankful that God's not finished with me yet. I am thankful for do-overs....and it seems like I need many of them every day. And....there's always tomorrow night!


  1. Oh Larisa, I am so often right there with you. Thankful for the sweet moment for you and Sintay at the end of the day. I'll be praying for you as I know how hard these days can be! Hugs friend!!

  2. Oh I needed this right now! To know I'm not the only one out there fighting frustrations of motherhood! Lately my kids have been bickering over everything so I had to laugh (sorry!) about the fighting over the bookmark!!
    Last night there was a breaking point and I had to stop thinking I had to enforce all the rules. I let a (not so little) boy stay up late. We talked. A lot. I'm hoping things get better here now that I heard him out. And to think I almost missed out on hearing his heart...

  3. Thank you for honestly sharing this. It is encouraging to know I am not the only one with a child who knows how to push every button...also for challenging me to watch for ways to connect. Praying for you right now.