Working the Night Shift

Once you become a mother your life will never be the same. If you’ve been a mom for more than a few minutes, than you know that one of the biggest changes and challenges is what happens to your sleep…or rather lack of sleep! It’s starts as soon as you bring that precious bundle home.

My sons were never good sleepers… whatever that means. When they were infants, they might sleep two hours at a time before the next feeding. I hated when people would ask the question everyone seems to ask… “Are they sleeping through the night yet?” Seriously!? Is this a real thing? Do babies even do that?! I had heard of this mythical phenomenon. To me it just sounded more like a cruel joke people say to the mom who hasn’t slept “through the night” in what feels like years, or actually has been years!?

There are so many emotions during those first months and years when babies and toddlers are so needy during the night. One minute I would be staring at their little faces completely in love thinking “Who needs sleep? I could just watch them all night.” Ten minutes later I would feel like crying out of pure exhaustion thinking “Why do these babies hate sleep?!” It’s kind of funny now, but for moms in the middle of the night shift, the struggle is real!

After almost five years I’m pretty used to someone calling, “Mommy!” pulling me out of sleep. “Night shift” I chuckle to myself as I roll out of bed to see what they need. Of course, as moms we also work the day shift, basically the 24/7-365 days a year shift. We are always on the clock, at least it feels that way, especially when our children are little. But every time I think about my job as a mother and how much time, energy and care it takes, I am reminded of someone else who never stops working, not even for a minute!

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭121:1-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This Psalm is short and sweet, and yet so profound. Where does our help come from? The Lord. Our little ones know that when they call out in the night, help is coming. Although I am tired and my body might rather sleep in those moments, my spirit is joyful and fulfilled to be the one they are calling. I can’t even imagine how much more God must feel, the maker of heaven and earth, as His many children are calling out to Him.

The next line that talks about not letting our foot slip always brings to my mind the image of a little child climbing a ladder or slide on the playground. Mom stands there right behind, letting them try, but making sure if her child’s foot misses the step and he or she starts to fall, she is right there to catch them in safe arms. What a tender picture of God’s love for us. He is right there if your children are slipping, or if your own foot feels unsteady trying to climb through the challenges of this life. He’s there with His arms out, ready to catch you before you fall.

Then there is the most amazing part of the Psalm; God never sleeps! He never stops caring for His children, not for one single second! I know as moms sometimes it may feel like we never sleep. But our limited, human bodies require rest to be able to live and function. God, however, is unlimited in His ability to care for His children day and night, without ceasing, the Psalm says “both now and forevermore.” Wow!

As I think back over the time I spent with my sons in the wee hours of the night, I am thankful for every minute. I treasure all of the extra time that I got to hold them and love them when they were babies. And I reflect on the ways God taught me, and still teaches me, more about Himself and His love through the night shift. Sitting in the quiet darkness, nursing, rocking, singing, snuggling, and praying are moments I honestly wouldn’t trade for any amount of extra sleep.

Now my boys are getting ready to turn 3 and 5 years old. They each have their own “big boy bed,” in the room that they share. Sleep is getting better! I tell them as I tuck them into bed that mommy has to sleep, but God never does. He watches them all night and keeps them safe. They can call to Him anytime. I know that one day they won’t need to call for me anymore. My prayer for them is that they will never forget their need to call to the Lord no matter how old they are.

Most nights they still wake up a time or two. It doesn’t bother me. They call me and I come. Those quiet nighttime moments are precious to me. My big boy usually just wants to be tucked in and kissed goodnight one more time. My little boy wants me to lay next to him while he falls back to sleep. They just want to know that I am there, and they are safe. Isn’t that the same thing we want to know about God? We need to be reassured that He is there and we are safe in His care. Psalm 121 gives us that assurance. Have you called to Him lately?

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” Psalms‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is another one of my favorite verses about sleep. I love to pray it over my children. But I think we as moms need to remember to pray it for ourselves just as much. With all the thinking and planning and worrying and caring we do for our families, wouldn’t it be nice to just lie down and sleep in peace for a little while? We can, because God is there, He is in control, and we are safe in His care. We can be thankful that someone so much greater than us is always working the night shift.

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