Author: Jacqi Kambish
Being a parent is the greatest and most adventurous life mission. You say things you never dreamed you would say. You do things you never dreamed you would do. The unimaginable and unexpected happens every single day.
Recently, my 5 year old son woke me up at 3:30 a.m. to tell me his bottom was itchy.
3:30 in the morning!
I laid there for a moment in groggy silence trying to process an appropriate response to that.
I’m positive he thought a century had gone by so he repeated his dilemma as loudly as humanly possible.
”Shhhhhh. I heard you.” I cut him off. I didn’t want him to wake the entire house.
There were a lot of things going through my mind. None of which were right and good. I wanted to go back to sleep. I wanted to stay in my warm bed. I wanted to tell him to go back to bed and we would deal with it in the morning. But, apparently it was so emergent that the discomfort had woken him up. Here he was, standing over me, with insistence. No… going back to sleep, any time soon, was definitely out of the question. As parents, sleep is a privilege we frequently miss out on.
I imagined for a moment what could possibly make him itch enough to have woken him up from a dead sleep.
Maybe he wasn’t really sleeping that well….
Maybe it was poop. Had he pooped that day? I don’t know…That must be it. Unless….
My mind pulled up every horror story I ever heard or read.
Was it some, absolutely, gut turning nasty parasite?
I read once about a type of worm that lives in your intestines and at night when you’re all toasty and sleeping, it crawls out of your bottom to lay eggs and is itchy when it does.
I swear, google it. Wait…maybe … don’t google it.
I gaged a little and terror welled up with in me as I started to crawl out of my warm bed. If he has a parasite, I am going to lose my mind…
It’s not a parasite. It CAN’T be a parasite.
My skin started to crawl as I followed him to the bathroom.
“Did you poop today?” I asked hopefully.
That wasn’t the positive reinforcement I needed right then.
I helped him in the bathroom. Sure enough, he hadn’t properly wiped.
I explained proper hygiene…again. I’m sure it went over his head…again. I shortened it to, “Let me know next time so I can help you get clean. That’s why you’re itchy, you couldn’t reach.” He looked at me with doubt in his eyes. “Every 5 year old needs help with some things. This is one of them.”
I think that was still too many words.
He nodded absently.
As I helped him back into bed he gave me a hug and a kiss. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
I wasn’t so lucky.
I was still shaking off the parasite theory.
If parenting has taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Life doesn’t fit into a beautifully wrapped package. Things don’t go as planned, dreams don’t always come true, and sticky fingers sometimes smudge up your best ideas. Sometimes, crap hits the fan and everything seems to fall apart. Sometimes…you get an itchy butt…
That sleep I so desperately need, that deadline, that perfect meal that just flopped onto the floor…
That flat tire, broken washing machine, and exploding soda…
The sick baby, unemployment, loneliness, anxiety, sorrow…
In life there often are unexpected turns and difficulties threatening to overtake us.
Life can be a pile of itchy poo that is relentless and persistent. That’s just a fact. It can be so uncomfortable and painful to deal with. I’m convinced, though, that the sun always comes out to dry up the rain. Eventually, things get better. We can get to the source of our discomfort and, eventually, the fog that has poured in, will lift. Life gets messy and overwhelming and sad, but there is good too.
I’m trying to remember to focus my attention on the unexpected joys and pleasures rather than the difficulties, no matter how big. The good is there, even in the middle of gray skies and life’s storms and… an itchy bottom, and no sleep…I promise, it is.
Sweet baby kisses, kindness from a stranger, a loving spouse…
Kids that learn to share, a surprisingly thoughtful gift, an encouraging word from a friend…
Hugs, impromptu dance parties, laughter…
Unexpected moments of joy that remind me to hold tight to hope when things are tough or I’m just having a bad day.
Can I remember to cling to the happy moments, and let go of the irritations and inconveniences? Can I trust God with the big stuff, enough to keep it from becoming overwhelming?
I can. I just have to remember in the moment to fix my heart on the good.
Even when it’s 3:30 a.m. and I’m sleepily helping a little boy who still needs me. One day, this boy may not need me anymore, but in this moment, he is sweetly and wholeheartedly, mine.
Unexpectedly sweet moments are a thing to cherish. If I remember to check my heart…I won’t miss them.