Our little family of five just got home from a mini-vacation. I keep calling it a “week” (“the kids were good this week;” “that was a fun week”), but actually it was only two nights. And to be honest, I’m not quite sure I could’ve made it a whole week in one hotel room with all three children. Don’t get me wrong – they were all very well-behaved, but it’s true that when you’re a parent, vacations are tiring and hard, and frankly, I now feel the need to have a vacation from my vacation.
We really did have a good time though. We were able to get some beach time and stick our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Literally, my toes were the only things I could stand to put in the water. It was freezing! The temperature was about 68 degrees so we were able to sit on the beach and not feel like we were burning to death, but the water temps were ridiculously cold. Brienne was the only one of us who ventured in and actually played in the water. Jonah was content to play in the sand and Vivienne had fun watching everyone.
We also went to the Jacksonville Zoo which was very nice. Jonah had the best time seeing all the animals. It’s so much fun to watch his little face when he sees something for the first time. And Vivienne was the happiest I’ve ever seen her. At times, we even forgot she was in the stroller. She didn’t cry one time the entire day; she was content to people watch. A girl after my own heart.
Nighttime in the hotel room was a whole other adventure, however. We all went to bed around 8:30 both nights because the two little ones were exhausted. Vivi slept in a pack-and-play by me and Peter while Jonah and Brie slept in the other bed. The first night, we just kept waiting for some disastrous scene to play out, but everybody slept pretty well. I remember the next morning Peter and I even made the comment that Jonah slept so well in the big bed and maybe he’s ready to move out of his crib, yada, yada, yada. Oh how naive and stupid we were!
The second night, everything was going smoothly until about 2:00 a.m. when Jonah decided to wake up and give us a two hour recap of our “week.” “I see a e-pant (elephant). Where the gunkey (monkey)? Dis is pun (fun), sissy. What hippo make?” And on. And on. And on. He seriously didn’t stop for two hours. If it hadn’t been the middle of the night, it would’ve been hilarious. But I’m here to tell you, it really wasn’t all that funny. We can laugh about it now, but that night I just wanted to muzzle him. (I’m wondering if I should’ve just written that.)
But what really caused a panic was hearing Brienne say, “Daddy, Jonah’s not in the bed.” Now obviously, he couldn’t get out of the hotel room, but remember how we had said we thought Jonah was ready to move to a big boy bed? Well, hearing “Jonah’s not in the bed” caused me to have visions of him wandering the house at night, opening cabinets, finding knives, pulling down shelves. You get the picture. Anyway, Peter and I both jumped out of the bed to try and find Jonah. He had been wandering in the dark and was now standing at the foot of our bed. When he saw Peter, he said, “Hey! It’s Daddy!” Sort of like he’d been looking for him all night. I then promptly scooped him up, snuggled him, and tucked him back into bed.
How many times do we find ourselves wandering around in the midst of complete darkness? I think about our friends who lost their sweet baby boy at the tender age of four months. The darkness they’ve felt. The wandering they’ve done. When we moved here to Valdosta just seven weeks after having Vivienne, I found myself wandering in the dark. Hormones, sleep deprivation, the sadness of leaving friends that I loved, the unknown of a new place all led to a depression of sorts and I couldn’t really see my way out. For some, it may be a stronghold that won’t let go – a recurring sin, anger, alcoholism – whatever causes you to wander in the darkness. The only way to walk out of the darkness is to keep searching for Christ. He is always there but sometimes it’s difficult to see Him. When we are finally able to see the Father, we can say, “Hey! It’s Abba!” and He will come scoop us up and hold us close. I’m thankful that He is always beside me, carrying me even when I can’t see or feel Him. Even in the dark.