The Interrupted Life

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It’s almost 9 pm by the time I get my three-year old to bed. I come downstairs wash a few dishes and sit down to face a blank page, praying for some words to encourage you and the fortitude for a finished thought. Finally, some quiet. Finally, some time alone. But almost as soon as I sit down, my 16 month old starts crying. His bed-time is earlier and for some reason he’s woken up.

I give him a few minutes to see if he won’t settle down and go back to sleep, but he doesn’t. And somehow creative thoughts aren’t flowing freely while I hear my baby’s cries grow more insistent. I check on him, which only upsets him more. I try to rock him and he flails. I opt to put him back in his crib and rub his tummy to see if he won’t settle down. He does and I quietly tip-toe out of the room. But as soon as the door shuts, he’s wailing again. I give him a little while to see if he won’t calm down and go to sleep on his own. But he doesn’t and because this is unusual for him and he’s just recently had an ear infection, I decide to err on the side of some Advil and a bottle. Finally, an hour after it began, he quietly puts himself back to sleep.

By now, it’s 10 pm and I’m running on fumes. The night before, my older son had a night terror. “Stay with me a little while, Mommy” turned into me sleeping on the floor by his bed until he fell back asleep. I woke up cold and stiff around 4 am and snuck back to my own bed only to have the little one wake up before 6 am, ready to go for the day.

So as I settle in to write, somewhere north of 10 pm, after a long day, and the interrupted sleep of the night before, somehow I can’t help but think about interruptions.

Interruptions are a constant part of a parent’s life. We can’t finish a conversation with a spouse, a meal, a bathroom break, a phone conversation, or a night’s sleep without someone melting down, falling, snatching a toy, crying, or needing a diaper change. We can’t even remember how to finish our sentences we’re interrupted so many times. (Here, I’m not talking about the child who is the habitual sentence-interrupter. That’s certainly something we need to work on training them not to do. But rather, I’m focusing on those everyday interruptions that are just a part of having children.)

And sooner or later, we start learning that it’s not in the goal or the plan, but in the interruption where ministry and real life are happening. It’s in the hours when we rock a fussing baby or hold a boy’s hand until the bad dreams recede. It’s in the moment where we must stop everything to discipline or when dinner gets burnt because we take a few minutes to stop and share our child’s joy in the just-finished Play-doh creation.

With each of life’s interruptions, our children are learning about what we value most. Is it them or the finished task? Is it keeping schedule or cultivating closeness? Is it our own comfort or their well-being? They are learning whether we view them as precious souls or as exasperating obstacles to our goals.

I’m not there yet. Too often I sigh or groan or lose my cool when I’m interrupted. I’m a completer, by nature, and leaving things unfinished just kills me. But little by little, God is showing me that when I view the ordinary interruptions as exasperations that I’m really just viewing my children that way. These are my beautiful, prayed-for, longed-for and desired interruptions. These are precious souls whose nurture and care is the main business of my life… my calling.

So God, give us the grace to embrace these interruptions as opportunities, to see them as the moments where we have the chance to show our children how you view them when they knock, plead, or find themselves in need. May we bear with sleep-deprivation, unfinished goals, lost thoughts and conversations, with grace and perspective. And may our children never question their value in our eyes or yours.

Waiting in Wonder by Catherine Claire Larson

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  1. How fitting that I got interrupted reading this and had to go find it again to read the end! Glad I did, because the encouragement I needed was at the end. Thanks, Catherine.

  2. I needed to read this tonight. I failed earlier this evening at this very thing. I unfortunately showed my daughter that it was more important for me to have a clean floor than to help her clean her shoes (on which she brought clumps of mud and sand into our house). I’ll be praying that God shows me every time I do that so I can change. Nothing is more important than this mission field called ‘home making’.

  3. The my back out today….with three kids under 4 to take care of, and a Marine husband who is working a drill weekend. Feeling frustrated, but loved your words as a good reminder to take time to slow


    1. You poor thing! I’m going to be praying for you: a thrown back, a faraway husband and 3 kids under 4! May God mercifully send you some supportive friends/family to help carry this load. Remember, God tenderly leads those who have young. (Isaiah 40:11). He knows how hard it is to have little ones dependant on us. He knows, He cares, and He is at work. Much love!

  4. As I read this I hear the laughter of my children outside and a bouncing ball. Mind you they are 15 and 10 now 🙂 Those ‘little moments’ never cease, and thank you for reminding me that all too soon these little moments will be gone and I’ll be missing them as much as my children. We get too wrapped up in our routines and start thinking of those moments as I thank you for giving me a window into another perspective. These are the blessings I was just so joyous over when the doctor handed them to me, and I must remember that.

    1. Thanks Angelique, I love those moments where we catch our children in the middle of joy. Definitely moments to be savored and to help us remember how short this time truly is.

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