Hello, God. Remember this?
Here's something that happened to me a couple of years ago. Well, maybe three and a bit years ago; I can date it pretty well as I was deep in the throes of exhaustion and despair that happen when you're a newish Mum; Elizabeth was around two years old and Katy was a matter of months - and I remember very clearly the desperate tiredness and misery that accompanies this sort of time. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of loveliness about it but, perhaps the Eeyore streak in me remembers the pain of it more clearly...
Anyway, Bryan was in London at work, it was about half eleven or midnight or somewhere way past my bedtime and I was staring in the face the diminishing hours before the next night time feed, but I couldn't get to sleep. I was feeling very sorry for myself. The girls were both asleep (and in those first few months after Kate came along that in itself was a bit of a miracle) and I needed to sleep as quickly as I could as I was far too well acquainted with 3am and knew that we would be meeting up again in a few short hours. I couldn't get to sleep and I was crying. It's so clear to me as a memory, and that's strange in itself as much of that time is a blur. I was lying on my right side, my preferred 'go-to-sleep' side, and sniffing into the pillow.
I was having a hard time praying, round about then; quiet times were simply opportunities to nod off, and I was so tired that stringing a coherent sentence together was an impossibility anyway, so my communication with you was kind of monosyllabic. That night it consisted of, 'Help me, God' and lots of sobbing.
Then I had the clearest picture I've ever had; I wish that I was a brilliant artist because I can see your face in my mind still. My heavenly Father, you reached out and put your arms round me. Your expression was one I understand now I'm a mother - it was a combination of sympathy and kindness and amusement too. You were looking at me as I do at one of the children when they're distraught over something minor and self inflicted - a sort of 'my poor little love, come for a cuddle' sort of look.
I felt so sleepy it was strange. I tried to stay awake to hang on to the feeling but I went straight to sleep and that was that. Wouldn't it be nice to say, 'And that was the first night that both children slept through!' but the truth is I don't remember. No idea when I next got up to feed, or how long I slept that night. I will never forget your face, though.
The thing is, Lord, since I've become a mummy I'm much more aware of you as my Daddy. I know there are so many sides to you that I need to understand more; the intimacy of the Father relationship is only one facet of many, but it's wonderful to me as I struggle with being a parent, and after all my own Dad has been dead more than five years and perhaps he wasn't the cuddling kind of Dad.
It's the wonder of loving someone so so much - how my girls make me so happy and proud when they achieve something, and how disappointed I am when I see them being mean and selfish. How proud I am when they share, when they do something new, and how sad and fiercely protective I am when they get hurt. Why should it be any different with You? I'm sure that You smile when I finally learn something you've been trying to teach me for ages, when the penny finally drops. I hurt you so often. And yet you came to me that night those years ago and comforted me just because you love me. I needed you, and you came.
That's a wonderful thing.