“I’m a Big Kid, No Wait, I’m a Baby” Syndrome
Don’t let the title fool you: this isn’t exactly a parenting post.
Two weeks ago, we got rid of pacifiers for the last time at our house. (Sniff sniff…I can’t believe we’re almost through the baby stage forever—it’s killing me.) The first night went swimmingly—not a single cry or complaint, just an angelic “Night-night, Mommy!”—all thanks to Sawyer’s initial thrill at getting to sleep with a toy for the first time. She gave me her pacifiers, I gave her a giant stuffed Olaf to sleep with. That’s our rule, by the way: No toys or stuffed animals in the bed until you get rid of pacifiers. This simple policy has given us some leverage in convincing our little pacifier addicts to surrender their passies. But back to our story.
That first morning, two-year-old Sawyer woke up all smiles and bragging rights: “Me a big girl now! Me give up my passies!” The first nap also went beautifully—not a single cry. So for about 23 hours, we were like, “Whoopee! We got off so easy! What an angelic child! Lucky us!”
We spoke too soon.
The second night, I put my daughter in her bed and tried to tuck her in. She did not lie down.
Instead she handed me Olaf and said, “Here, Mommy, take Olaf. Me want my passies back.” When I attempted to explain in two-year-old terms that the pacifiers had a no-exchange, no-return policy, her little face melted. There was a long pause, the calm before the storm. And then the wailing started… and nine days of sleepless misery began. (To add to our joy, my husband’s back went out the same day, leaving him in excruciating, debilitating pain. Isn’t that just the way of it?!)
The next afternoon during “nap time” (a.k.a. “scream-until-you-lose-your-voice-and-then-dig-down-deep-and-find-a-way-to-scream-some-more” time), I went in to check on Sawyer, and found her lying naked in a naked crib. Everything was on the floor: pillows, sheet, blankets, clothes, Pull-Up, even poor Olaf. Sawyer just lay there, a pale little girl on a stark white mattress, and gave me a tired, watery smile. In a pitifully hoarse voice she croaked, “Me pooped in my crib.” I stared down in dismay at the tangle of sheets and blankets, wondering where, exactly, the poop was hiding. Wondering where Carson and Anna and all of my household staff were when I, Lady Elizabeth, needed them. Wondering why oh why we had ever decided we needed to get rid of pacifiers when they are the most blessed invention ever granted to sleep-deprived parents.
And as I began the world’s grossest-ever scavenger hunt, Sawyer supervised my work (still naked in her crib) and announced, “Me not a big girl anymore. Me a baby.”
I had to walk out of the room so I could laugh-cry at her (you know those moments: the I’m-so-exhausted-and-this-is-so-revolting-that-I-can’t-decide-if-I-should-laugh-or-cry-so-I’ll-do-both moments), and somewhere mid-laugh-cry, I started laughing at myself. Because the truth is, I’m not so different from my daughter. It’s not her fault she’s so stubborn. I’ve done something similar many times in my life—only I’ve done it to God.
Some days, life is good: Things are… not exactly easy, because life is never easy, but they’re manageable, pleasant, and as predictable as life can be with a visionary preacher-husband and four crazy kids in the house. And on those days I’m all gratitude and smiles. I’m like, “Thank you, God! You’re the best! I love my life. I love being a Christian. I love knowing that you guide me through my days. ‘Your rod and your staff, they comfort me’ (Psalm 23:4). Thanks for all the ways you are helping me to grow and mature.” I’m a big girl, God!
And then something changes.
Maybe it’s something big: a friend’s serious illness, a major financial setback, a heartbreaking disappointment. Or maybe the change is on the smaller side, one of those things that isn’t catastrophic, but ruins your plans and steals your joy nonetheless: hurt feelings, a sick kid (or two or three or four), a broken-down car.
All of a sudden, life isn’t so shiny anymore. I don’t want to be a grown-up anymore. I’m not a big girl, God. I’m a baby! I stop short of stripping off my clothes, but even so, I know that God sees me as I am, in all my unadorned glory:
“Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139:2)
I toss all my toys out of the bed and give in to dark thoughts. When God comes in to check on me, he finds me lying there pouting: “This is harder than I thought. I wasn’t ready for this. I want to go back to the way things were, when life was simpler. I didn’t realize what I was getting in to—you tricked me, God!”
And in those moments, I have a choice to make: I can scream and fight God until I lose my voice (knowing full well that I’m wasting my time, and God’s), or I can give in and let him guide me through the change.
Like Sawyer, it usually takes me a few days to work my way through it. I have to cry and complain to God a little. I have to wrestle with the Scriptures a lot. I have to talk to friends who are wiser and more rational than I am. I have to write about it and process it on paper. I might have to apologize to my visionary preacher-husband and four crazy kids.
But in the end, like Sawyer, I end up giving in and quieting down. I let God have his way with me. Eventually I admit, “Okay, you win. You’re the dad, I’m the daughter, and you know what’s best.” I’m a big girl again. Eventually I find joy in experiencing my own growth, knowing my heavenly Father is proud of me. And at long last, like Sawyer, I sleep peacefully through the night, knowing God is watching over my dreams.
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In case you missed it, here are the first two videos in the new LizzyLife YouTube channel: Building Family God’s Way, and First Comes Love! (In spite of my crazy eyes in the thumbnails, I think you’ll enjoy the videos!)
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Elizabeth works from home as a writer, editor, diaper changer, baby snuggler, laundry slayer, not-so-gourmet chef, kid chauffeur, floor mopper, dog groomer, and tantrum tamer. She is always tired, but it's mostly the good kind.