About 13 million hectares of forest were destroyed in 2010. I feel that I should put my hand up and admit that I must take the responsibility for 7.4 million of those hectares, as they now adorn my bookshelves in the form of books on baby care.
The amazing thing about all of the different books you can buy on baby care is the variety of different writing styles available. There’s the agonisingly smug ones (my 3 month old changed their own nappies, fed themselves in the night and occasionally whipped up a great cheese Soufflé), the painfully patronising ones aimed at blokes (don’t put your baby in the microwave) and the downright scary ones (we always found that a cattle prod was the most effective tool for disciplining our 6 month old).
Despite the varying styles and philosophies there seems to be one area of agreement. That is the existence of a ‘sleep window’ as one book put it. That is to say there is a small space of time between a baby’s first yawn and a full blown hysterical fit. If you can’t get them to sleep before the fit starts then you aren’t going to get them to sleep.
I can personally confirm that this window does in fact exist. I know from painful personal experience, having selflessly and manfully offered to put Millie to bed so that Esther could go to our home group BBQ.
The memories of those 2 hours still haunt my dreams. The frustrating that about the whole experience was the knowledge that what Millie really needed was to sleep, but having missed my ‘window’ that was the one thing she was going to do everything in her power to avoid doing. When I put her in her cot she would scream and scream, until her eyes started to close and she began to drift off to sleep, at which point she would rub her eyes to wake herself up and begin the whole process again.
When Esther came home and rescued me, I poured myself a glass of wine and found myself musing how the frustration Millie causes me when she won’t sleep is similar in some ways to the frustration I must cause God.
I know Millie needs sleep, but if you miss the window she will do anything in her power to avoid it. Similarly God knows what I need. He’s given me a Bible and he’s always there to listen to prayer yet for some reason I don’t use them.
We all sin, that is a fact that is stated in the Bible and can be verified simply by looking at our lives. The thing is though, I don’t think many of us plan to sin. I certainly don’t open my diary on a Sunday and say right what sins can I fit in this week? Perhaps some envy on Monday, gluttony on Tuesday and if I reschedule my pride on from Wednesday to Thursday I can fit in some extra sloth.
No when I sin, it comes from my own stupidity and naivety (a lot of the time at any rate). God knows (and tells me) what is best for me and what I need, but I think I know better. At 9.30pm on a Monday evening I could go up to bed, read the Bible, have a quiet time and a good night’s sleep (Millie depending). When I find myself in a stressful situation the following morning I will be rested and the words I read the previous night might come back to encourage and strengthen me. Alternatively I could watch another 2 episodes of the violent American TV programme I happen to be into at the time. The following morning when the stressful situation confronts me I will be tired (and so ratty) and have the wise cracks and put downs from the TV going round my head. One of those choices is a wise choice which God tells me I should opt for; the other is contusive to sin. Too often I choose the wrong one.
The experience of rocking quietly in a darkened room with a screaming child on my lap has drastically changed my view of God. Sin is such an uncomfortable subject to broach at times, and if we get hung up our sinfulness we can start to miscast God. It’s easy to think of God as an angry man standing in the corner with a whip waiting to give you a flogging if you don’t say ‘sorry’ 400 times a day. In reality he is a loving father wanting what is best for his children. He is frustrated when he sees us make silly choices because he wants us to thrive and after all isn’t that what all fathers want for their children?
how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.