I haven’t slept all night in six months.
I know this because my baby daughter Poppy was six months old at the weekend. She’s perfectly lovely, in every way. Except, she’s not a sleeper.
I love this stage, this half a year old time. She’s just started solids, which my other two kids find hilarious and fascinating. I mean, who wouldn’t be amused by a face covered in peach goop and broccoli mush? And then there’s the Bumbo- a small rubber seat to keep Poppy upright as she surveys the world of our living room. Though, again, it actually provides more enjoyment for her siblings who take turns jamming themselves into it when watching TV.
But still, despite the thrills and spills, I wait for the night when little Poppy will sleep longer than a few hours in one stretch. I know, I know, it’s probably teeth or she’s likely hungry or perhaps it’s a growth spurt or maybe she is cold! But actually, I think this wee one might just be a bit of a light sleeper. If I’m honest I don’t really care about the reason. I just want more kip. I wonder how that would make me feel? Simply glorious, I suspect.
There’s a pink Post-it note I stuck up above our kitchen sink. It reads, ‘ Always, we begin again.’ I recently read it in Micha Boyett’s Found , but it’s taken from the Rule of St Benedict. Sometimes, standing at the sink I think -how can I be here again? Because I clean the dishes, I put them away. I set the table, I clear it away. I strap the kids into car seats and I unbuckle them out. I fill the bath, I empty it. I go get the bags of food, I put it all away, I make up the bottles, I rinse them again. I take off the dirty nappies, I put on fresh ones. I take off the dirty clothes, I put on clean ones. Many times. Everyday.
But when I glance up at this note it reminds me there is something deeper to be found in the returning and the repeating. The Benedictine monks, they built their life around returning to work, to rest and to prayer. They wanted to find God in all of it. And clearly, whilst I’m no monk, everyday I get to begin again. Reluctantly, I pull back the covers, I say a groggy hello to my children and I stumble, rush and often eeek my way through another day.
But I get another shot at doing the stuff and finding Him in the work, the rest and prayer.
And miraculously, He comes again to me and says, ‘There is more for you today Tory- I’m going to stay with you, I’m going to be enough for you, in all of your mess and effort and bleary eyed busyness I’ve got stuff to show you, people I want you to love, voices I want you to hear, lessons I want you to learn. Begin again. Walk with me.’
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
A few weeks ago I started the simple discipline of trying to pray with the kids in the morning. Let me be clear, we do not sit in a circle, bow our heads and quietly say The Lord’s Prayer. In fact, this morning we were running late and prayed on the walk to school. As Noah stamped in the frozen puddles he declared, ‘Fank you God for cars and raisins’. Autumn, she’s a daddy’s girl and so she prayed ‘Look after Daddy riding his bike to the fire station’. And me, well the Arctic wind was blowing like razor blades on my hands as I gripped the buggy, so I prayed, ‘Thank you that Spring time is on its way and soon we won’t need boots or coats, Amen.’
And so, technique is not really that relevant to my kids. Or to me, actually. I just want us to invite God into our day. To cultivate an awareness of His presence. Cherish it, invest in it. And being intentional with prayer is a way we can begin to do that. Some days it’s in desperation for help, others it’s a discipline I know I need to practice. And sometimes I just clean forget to do it.
But, always, we begin again.