When Reality Doesn't Conform to Expectations

The other night Bam Bam woke up in a mood. You know the kind. He's not hungry, he's not thirsty, he doesn't want to any hugs or kisses he just wants something inane, that only makes sense to his little sleep addled brain.

In this case he wanted me to get out of bed and go sit on the couch so he could sit on my lap there and fall back asleep again. It makes sense, sort of, that's how he fell asleep the first time, before I laid him in his bed.

But at 4:30 in the morning this tired pregnant mama is going to need 2 things, to use the bathroom, again, and to lay in bed and sleep.

So after figuring out that all he wanted was snuggles in different geography I told him no more, we're going back to bed, after I used the bathroom that is.

You who have children like this may well imagine the fit that followed. He was literally trying to pry me out of bed and make me do it his way.

There are moments when you realize your kid is not going to listen to reason, he's just going to fight for something senseless because he's going to fight for it, and you just have to help him deal with it until he can calm himself down.

These are the moments when Aaron or I will scoop him up, hold him close, immobilizing him so he can't keep punching us in the throat or kicking us in the stomach, and hold him until he calms himself down.

I can tell you that nothing feels more like a never ending endurance test than holding a screaming, fighting, kicking and trying to bite toddler for hours on end. Ok, it's usually less than an hour, often longer than half an hour, but it always feels like forever.

He screams "GO, GO!" Which is his way of demanding I let go. I murmur soothing words in his ear, tell him I love him even though he's a giant pain in my butt right now and keeping me from things I'd like to be doing, and practice my slow breathing, while wondering how much longer my arms can hold out since he's fighting super hard and they are starting to ache.

We always give him a way out. "I will let go when you calm yourself down. Or say please."

He refuses to do either, usually for a while.

So I lay there for 20 minutes or more, restraining my child, who was screaming because he wanted me to hold him, just in a different place.

Eventually he stopped fighting and lay still and I asked, in my gentle sympathetic voice, "Are all done?"

"No." He whimpered in response, but he remained still and didn't fight, so I let go, and he sat up.

At that moment I opened my arms wide and asked, "Do you want a hug?"

He threw himself at me, nestled his very sweaty little head right up under my chin, and hiccuped and sighed as he began to relax into sleep again.

He threw himself into the exact same place he had been fighting me so hard to be let out of only moments before. Other than getting up once, very quietly, and asking me to get him water, he spent the rest of the night cuddled beside me, in the exact same spot where I had held him down.

Since I enjoy irony as much as I do I couldn't help but laugh at the stupidity of the whole encounter. I, after all, hadn't changed. I was still laying in bed, still holding him in my arms, kissing his head, and whispering calming things in his ear. What changed was him. He gave up fighting to get my comfort and care on his own terms, and instead accepted the love that was always offered, surrendering, and relaxing into it, instead of pushing against it.

Which makes me wonder about us, as grown ups, and how much of the misery we experience in our lives is because we are fighting against the love, and good that is held out in front of us, because it's not exactly the way we want it. We are so attached to our idea of how we ought to be loved, what we ought to have, or where we ought to have arrived at already, that we fight against, instead of accept, that what we NEED is prepared already.

How many times has your unhappiness stemmed from the disparity between the idea you carry in your brain of what will make you happy, and the actual reality you face? How much joy do you and I miss because of this comparison?

What are the chances we are exactly like a 2 year old fighting against the person who loves us and holds us and comforts us no matter how much we fight against him? What if we are the ones who are demanding it happen our way, instead of receiving joyfully what we do in fact have, and what we are, in fact, given?

How much contentment could we find if we stopped fighting against our present circumstance, and instead chose to embrace it, to give thanks for what is there, rather than fighting for the idea in our head of how it ought to be?

Just a thought for the day.

What do you think?



  1. Mary (http://owlhaven.net)12:49 PM

    Too true-- it's our expectations that trip us up in so much of life.

  2. Katie O6:45 AM

    I think you have a knack for writing exactly what is most encouraging and helpful for me to read on any given day. And Kudos for remaining patient at that hour--my personal nemesis is maintaining patience for middle of night ridiculousness. Also? Bam Bam is really really cute.

  3. Beth In the City7:13 AM

    Oh yes, this matches what God has been teaching me! My expectations get me in trouble so often. Thanks for the good parenting advice and the good personal growth advice!

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