Midnight Manifesto – (a letter to my baby)

Being a first-time foster mom (of a newborn), has been quite the experience this past month or so. And I have to say the constantly interrupted sleep is the hardest part. I wrote this manifesto in the wee hours of the morning after an especially rough night. Part of me wants to go back and do a bunch of editing to make it more polished. But I’ve decided to give you the (mostly) raw version, as it came tumbling out in the twilight of early morning. Because I think it captures well the mixture of fatigue and determination, beauty and frustration, that I was feeling in that moment, with my author brain only half in gear, but my mom instincts driving me like a warrior woman. So here it is, in all it’s messy mixture of occasional rhymes and passionate prose…

To you, baby boy…

Sometimes in the dark, when fatigue presses in, like a wall, and I’m fighting for strength just to stand. And my eyes are glued shut by the sleep I can’t get, and you’re crying again over there in the crib, and exhaustion is telling me just to pretend. To pretend I can’t hear you and go back to bed…

I imagine.

I imagine myself without use of my limbs. Unable to speak or demand what I need. Helpless, alone, lying there in a bed. Dependent on those who are caring for me. I imagine I’m lonely, or worried, or scared. Or maybe my tummy is hurting instead. And I’m crying for someone to come and to help. Unable to stand up and fix it myself. Someone come. Someone come. Someone come.

I wonder.

I wonder what it would be like if those people. The ones who I’m trusting and calling out for. If they were to stay there outside of the door, hearing but choosing to not understand. If they were to say “She’s not hungry or cold. We’ve just changed her diaper, that’s all we can do.” And left me there crying to learn to “self-sooth.” Until I gave up and went still in despair, as I realized those people, they really weren’t there. Not there when I needed a hand holding mine, or arms wrapped around me to tell me I’m fine. All alone. All alone. All alone.

I’d need them.

I’d need them with me in the dark and the pain. Though maybe they can’t understand how to help. Or can’t fix the colic or gas anyway. And maybe I’d go on and cry in their arms, as they desperately hoped they’d get SOME sleep someday. But still I would know, in the depths of my soul, as I cried for the thing they don’t know how to change. In the wee morning hours so far before dawn, I would know even still, as they held me and yawned…They are here. They are here. They here.

I remember.

I remember the Shepherd who taught us the rule. To treat others the way we’d want them to treat us. The same Shepherd who said “Let the little ones come.” And I don’t think those “others” meant only adults. And that, little baby, is why I’ll be there. When you’re crying again in the the thick of the night. To hold you so close even when you still wail, and whisper my love in the breath between cries. I promise you this, through my half-open eyes. I’ll be there. I’ll be there. I’ll be there.

I know.

I know that someday, maybe much, much too soon, you’ll discover the world is not such a safe place. There are people indifferent. And people unkind. People who leave you alone in a bind. People who won’t give a fig if you cry, alone, in a bed, in the dark of the night. But when that day comes, precious boy, how I pray, it will not be until you can stand on your own. Have the words and the courage to make it alone. And even if sometimes your needs won’t be met, I hope you’ll have strength stored inside of you yet. Somewhere down deep. The heartbeat of your soul. Where my whispered words went while the midnight clock tolled. And I hope you’ll stand straighter, and lift up your head, and and always remember that somebody said, You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

I believe.

I believe, tiny one, in a Jesus who came. Who came when his people were crying for Him. In a God who has promised again and again, “If you call unto me, I will answer.” Yes He came, precious boy, as a baby like you. A baby who’s advent split darkness in two. So He knows what it’s like to be helpless and small. And He’ll give me the strength to stand up when you call. Never fear, little lamb, half awake in the dark. If you cry out for me, I will come. Though I’m desperate for sleep, though my brain’s half-in-gear. I will come, even if all you need is a hug. I will fight my way out of the fog-chains of sleep. I will fight my up from these pillows so deep. I will fight, yes I’ll fight, and I’ll win, tiny one. As sure as the darkness gives way to the sun…

I will come. I will come. I will come.

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