Part 3 – Conference time and more bad sleep habits…
Isaiah 43:1, “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.“
Sometime early last year, after our 5th child, Shauneisha, was born. I had heard that the annual Anglican ladies conference was on in Gunnedah that year. Around the same time I read of a mother who would take her girls to women’s conferences as a special mother daughter outing. I thought this might be ok – although apprehensive about having 3 kids to control in an auditorium.
Yet again, God went ahead of us.
We travelled with a close friend, her daughter and our friends sister in law and her daughter. I had been going through a phase of introducing Maleah as, “this is Maleah, our difficult child” or apologising in advance for crazy behaviour. As I walked into the conference, ready to continue to pass on multiple excuses for her erratic, unsettled behaviour, it was as if God put His hand on my shoulder and said, “She is Maleah. That’s it.” It’s true.
Her identity is a child of God, being sanctified each day.
Too many times we allow our child’s bad behaviour to determine their identity, and readily pass that on to those we meet. We had a great conference. I settled in the creche room that had its own speaker. The kids could play and I could hear the message. That weekend was exactly what we needed.
Another habit I formed was not wanting to take her anywhere, it just seemed difficult, and not worth the hassles or tantrums, until one day someone casually said “you can take your kids for a play round there, but probably don’t take Maleah”. They hadn’t meant it maliciously, but it was like God used that as a mirror to look at my own behaviour and thoughts. How would I like it if people introduced me by my imperfections and struggles?
Bad Sleep Habits
The nights weren’t getting any better. Maleah pretty much stopped day sleeps soon after she was 1. Any day sleep would mean that she wouldn’t settle for the night until 10:30 / 11. Even if we took her to bed, sang, prayed, read – she wouldn’t settle. She was wide, and I mean WIDE awake. Even as a baby, she never cried to sleep, even with regular settling. As each of our kids have learnt to self-settle to sleep in their cots, Paul and I chose to sit with them, and sing, or listen to the radio (KGHY Gospel Hiway – was Maleahs!) until they went to sleep. Most nights this is an enjoyable, special experience, as we talk about our day, or answer other more pressing questions that have arisen from their day, I also enjoy being able to sing praise and worship songs, and can use it as a time of personal reflection too.
Once Maleah was settled for the night and Paul and I had eaten a block of chocolate to celebrate another success, (because this is important you know!) we didn’t know how long she would be asleep for. Some nights, Paul would end up massaging her legs at 2am until she would stop crying. Some nights we’d think it was growth pains, some nights the screaming and wierd grunting noise was like she was having nightmares. We would try and wake her up, give her a drink and resettle her but she would just keep kicking until she suddenly went back to sleep.
As I mentioned in Part 2, some nights she would walk around the house, as if it was morning. We’d be lying in bed hearing the fridge open and footsteps around the house, then she’s come and snuggle in and go back to sleep.
The more the tantrums went on, the more the sleep habits didn’t improve, the more I became weary of doing good. I had talked with Paul about the handful of similarities her behaviour has with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), but then so many more pieces of the puzzle were missing. So we continued to pray and ask God for some direction.