So life with Sophie lately has been a series of battles and meltdowns. In case you don’t know, Sophie has been struggling with some unidentified issues — certainly anxiety, possibly ADHD, maybe sensory processing disorder. I don’t want to project these things on her, but this is what I’m seeing in her behavior, as much as I don’t want to see it. My heart has been heavy as we wait for her coming appointment with the developmental pediatrician, and for her referral to a psychologist for a full neuro-psyche evaluation. There are many overlapping syndromes and conditions that fit with the issues Sophie is struggling with. It could be as mild as anxiety. It could be as severe as autism. Whatever the case, life with Sophie can be challenging. Call it whatever you want to.
And on top of that she’s not sleeping right now. So that’s special. She’s lost her nap to her all day preschool class (which is AWESOME —I mean, the class is awesome, but the nap loss, not so much). And, although she’s five, she evidently still needs a nap. Because she’s been a real treat since giving up that sleep. And if that wasn’t enough to throw her into a emotional hurricane, then there’s the fact that she’s been rising every morning between 4:30 and 5:00 AM. You can guess how much the mommy and daddy of a new baby who still gets up at night just LOVE these early wake up calls. Right. So, she’s subjected herself to even more sleep deprivation. Because once she’s up, the girl is up. She is ready to start the day. W.I.R.E.D. She wants to do all the things at 5AM. All. The. Things. There is no more sleep for Sophie once her eyes pop open.
So, imagine with me how you cope with life on the days when you’ve decreased your amount of sleep by 2-3 hours. Yikes. That’s not pretty. Even for me as a grown up, it’s not pretty. Imagine doing this for a month. Are you tired yet? Now, put that on a five-year-old, with special needs, who can barely cope with life as it is. Are your eyes bulging yet? Because mine are…
I so wanted to enjoy this season with Sophie, her last summer break before entering a full day of school. And I truly did enjoy some of the moments. But there were so many days when I thought I was losing my sanity. Actually, I’m still there. There are many moments when I still completely lose my chill. Like, where is Catherine’s chill? Is that it waaaaaaaayyyy over there in Canada? Oh, yep, that’s it. Gone. No image of Jesus here. Just a crazy lady.
I have, at times, in this season, lost sight of the joy of being Sophie’s mother. Much of my time with her is just bound up in frustration, because she’s not being who I want her to be. That sounds terrible to say, but I’m sure that at least one or two of you can relate to a non-enjoyed season of parenting. I feel in a very real sense like I’ve lost my sweet Sophie who I knew for the past four years before this. Where did that girl go? I liked her. I would definitely say that I’ve lost perspective. Believe it or not, there’s freedom in this realization. Because now I can strive to regain perspective, to journey the path of acceptance one more time, which I’m sure will not be the last time…
On a recent Sunday my pastor prayed for those who were feeling discouraged. He said that God had shown him that many of us were feeling that way, and God wanted to speak encouragement into those areas for us.
Great. That’s me. I’m ready, God: Lay it on me.
Immediately I called to mind a passage from a book that I read probably at least a year ago. It’s from Jennifer Rothschild’s Lessons I Learned in the Dark. She’s writing about receiving difficult gifts from God, as her blindness was to her.
“One reason that many people struggle with bitterness or ungratefulness is that they’ve never learned to receive difficult gifts… Often we struggle with an attitude of ungratefulness because our eyes are fixed so fiercely on the gift… But if we fix our eyes on God, we can see beyond the difficulty of the gift into the heart of the Giver. Regardless of whether we asked for it or want it, it’s a gift of God’s grace, and our response should always be to receive it with thanks.”
God spoke: Sophie is a gift. Hold her hand. Walk with her. Show her Jesus. She is a gift to you, not to somebody else, not to any other mother, to you. Let go of who you want her to be and receive who I have made her to be.
Sophie is a difficult gift for me right now, or perhaps her possible disorders are, but she is absolutely still a gift. It is time again to let go of who I planned for her to be and to walk forward into what is. It’s time to once again embrace God’s story for Sophie instead of my own.