Over Christmas, my 4 year old Eli got sick. We took him to the doctor where they stuck a swab up his nose (which he was of course thrilled about) and diagnosed him with Influenza B. This virus brought 6 days of very high fever which left Eli pretty miserable. Adults know that sleep helps cure everything. Try explaining that to a very busy four year old.
Our 7 year old Zoe and Eli share a room. On a typical day home, they have ‘rest time’ that lasts for 90 minutes where they don’t have to sleep but must stay in their room and play quietly. Because Eli was sick, we told him he had to sleep in mom and dad’s bed for nap time so that he would actually sleep. Oh you would have thought we had just told him he wasn’t getting any Christmas presents. He whined… he cried… he pleaded… he kicked and screamed… to no avail.
I finally just picked him up and carried him into our bed. I tried to tell him all about why he needed this nap. That sleep would help his body heal. That it would help him feel better. Guess how much he cared about my reasons? He just kept telling me over and over that he wanted to be in his room with Zoe. I didn’t know what else to do. I almost just left him there.
Finally I climbed under the covers and held his little hand. “You know what?” I told him. “What?” he asked with tears in his eyes. “When I was a kid, there was a rule at my house. No kids in mom and dad’s bed. I never got to sleep in their bed. Not when I had a bad dream or even when I was sick. That was just a rule. Isn’t it cool that you get to sleep in my bed today? I was never allowed to sleep in my mom’s bed.” (Don’t get me wrong, I got plenty of love and care when I was sick or had a nightmare! And I’ve kept this no kids in the bed rule pretty consistently with my own children too for my own sanity as a parent.)
As I finished, his eyes got all big and round. “I’m so lucky!” he whispered. He clutched my hand in his, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.
Such a small parenting moment. A win you might say. But the underlying truth has stuck with me.
How often in life do we get stuck because all we can think about is what we want but don’t have? Though not in the same way as a 4 year old, we throw our own little tantrum about it. I know I’m guilty of this. It’s my life, certainly I know best what I want and need. How wrong I often am though. I whine and cry about how God’s plan is not what I want. I pray, only asking again and again for what I want. But so often what I want is akin to Eli wanting to play with his sister instead of getting the rest his body needed. As his mom, I could see that even though it made him cry and it wasn’t what he wanted, it was what he truly needed.
What helped? A shift in perspective. So how can I shift my perspective about things in life that aren’t what I had hoped?
From: “I want Ivy to eat by mouth. I’m so frustrated that she completely refuses.”
To: “With as much as she’s been sick this year, her tube has saved her from dehydration. I can feed her such healthy foods through her tube!”
From: “I don’t want to go to another specialist appointment.”
To: “Wow, how lucky we are that we live so close to a great children’s hospital with doctors who can meet all of Ivy’s needs.”
From: “I really want to stay home with my kids.”
To: “I’m so glad that I have a job where I can make a difference in the lives of other kids and have really great insurance to cover all of our family’s needs.”
I will make small steps towards shifting my perspective. I will be more grateful in the things I can’t change. I will remember that God is my heavenly father and I may not always know what is best for me. I will trust Him. I will focus on and remember all the ways that I am lucky and blessed!
What about you? How can you shift your perspective today?