Here’s what I think about anxiety:
Some of you may know we just welcomed our fourth little bundle of sleepless nights. That girl goes from snoring to screaming faster than any other baby I’ve known, 0-60 in three seconds.
We have four kids sharing two bedrooms, which means each baby has a sleeping buddy. That’s the Lumpkin way; babies move in with their siblings early on. It never ceases to amaze me just what an older sibling can sleep through. Once Lucy slept through 20 minutes of Rae screaming her brains out until she fell asleep. I’m pretty sure we offered Lucy our bed to fall asleep in while Rae worked it all out, but she was too asleep to stir!? It’s not that way with other things though, right? If a bottle drops out of bed and makes a tiny “dink” on the floors of their room, they’re up. If the old front door downstairs squeaks in just the right (wrong, so wrong) way they’re all awake instantly.
Anxiety. The US Navy uses recordings of wailing newborns to train recruits in torture and interrogation scenarios. That means I’m primed and ready for the waterboarding of the century, guys. I’ll never tell! Humans are biologically wired to abandon everything for the sake of a newborn with needs. Mamas have physical, biological responses to those hunger-induced shrieks. I don’t know about you, but when there’s a baby awake and gurgling and even happily existing in the basinet next to me, I will not sleep. If there’s a chance the little one could erupt and shake me from my slumber I cannot fall asleep. The cries make every action hurried. I feel like I am being chased around by a crab or a garden snake or something—not so intense a pursuit that my life is at risk, but just menacing enough to make me want to breathe sporadically, and cry a little. Forget about trying to sleep through the cries, like the older kids always do. Impossible. Unless you’re my husband.
My theory is this, the older kids know and understand that the crying baby is not their problem.
What if they’re not stressed or anxious about their screaming sibling because they know it’s not their job to tend to the little thing? They believe that Mama or Daddy will intervene when it’s necessary and time. They understand that really, there’s nothing to be done about it.
What if that is exactly what God understood when imploring us not to be anxious in anything? Maybe it’s possible to drown out those screaming medical bills, bad grades, blood test results, job interviews, parent teacher conferences, dirty dishes, emails, and colonoscopies. Maybe sweet sweet slumber is available to every one of us if we meditate on a Loving and Caring and Good God who we believe will intervene if (and when) shit gets really real.
She is screaming right now, in fact. And I have so much laundry to do. And a big heavy snow is in from the south tonight; it will destroy my nearly-blooming peonies that I didn’t get a chance to clip earlier today. Peso the kitty needs a good brushing very badly (please don’t sit on the big gray sofa if you’re visiting anytime soon). My chin hairs are longer than God ever intended them to be. So basically I have five little crabs chasing me around tonight.
But wait, they’re not my problem! I know Nell is exhausted, fed, changed, and cozy. Her brain is figuring out how to do bedtime. So what if I have laundry to fold? God bless the laundry and the little bodies it blesses. God bless the snow that will nourish the good soil and water my cold weather crops (BUT MY PEONIES?!) God bless that cat and his fluffy tail and all the mice he keeps away. And God, please get a plan in place for when I am old and senile and unable to see my chin hairs. Please have someone in charge of plucking them for me from my wheelchair or something?
I pray that we settle in for a good night’s sleep tonight knowing deep down nothing is scary to God. I pray we believe in, like sleeping siblings believe in, a Good and Loving Parent carefully listening to the cries of life, the cries of our identities. They’re not our problems, guys. All those things, they really don’t matter. And yet they all matter so much, don’t they? But really, they don’t matter, do they? We can learn to be content whatever the circumstances. Yes, even with a screaming baby in the room. I think…