His homing instinct keeps bringing him back to our bedroom. Back to the sliver of space between my clumsy belly and Pete’s back. To the tuck and curve of comfort that we don’t quite have it in us to give at the moment.

And when we say no, when we escort him back to his bunk bed, he weeps. Genuine fear and anguish and peril at the thought of being alone. So I walk back with him. I hold his hand. I pray lyrical requests for protection over him. He lisps right along behind adding his own childish insights into what a five and half year old fears.

I tuck in his toes. I rearrange his pillow. I turn on the night light and the music and I kiss him.

But it’s not enough. This weekend nothing is enough. He begs and pleads for me to stay, to lie next to him. Requests that are unfamiliar and unsettling coming from our eldest. Finally I relent. Not because I want to. Not because I’m in the mood to. Not because I feel gracious or kind or particularly compassionate. Mostly I just feel tired and frustrated. But I also feel like this is a way to show Jesus to him. To be there.

To just be in the gap with him.

To lie next to him and be present in the midst of his fear.

Honestly, though, I am not very good at it. Because I quickly just feel uncomfortable and impatient. And I laugh on the inside at how very, very un-Jesus like I am. I want a quick fix. I want him to stop whining and just fall asleep already. I want to go back to my own bed and my me time.

I don’t want to be anyone’s anything past 9pm at night.

Past 9pm at night I’d really prefer if the whole world simply revolved around me. Amazing how naturally selfishness comes to me. And how my kids, more than anything else, have worked hard at chipping, cracking, pulling, peeling, and stripping it away. Like so much old paint.

There always seems to be another layer.

And I could tell you that he’s sleeping great these days. I could tell you that I’m consistent in my approach, loving and firm. I could tell you that I embrace having my selfishness stripped away. But truth is, he’s not, I’m not, and I don’t.

I’m just a tired mom trying to figure it out, trying to remember to unload the dishwasher and fill in the prechool application for next year so that we don’t miss the 50% discount window. I’m cranky and in love with my kids at the same time. I’m so much purple paint crudded over layers of grey and brown and faded orange.

I flake and I frustrate and I try to wrap my arms and my heart as tight around my boys as I can while also trying to squeeze out sacred moments of me-time.

Sometimes simultaneously.

But I’m also committed to trying again.

And I trust in the gift of tomorrow. And the Father who gives it.

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