Sometimes, giving R her bath and putting her to bed can feel like such a chore. She hates having her hair washed, won’t get in the tub, won’t get out of the tub, wants to be read to but turns the pages faster than you can read them, won’t get in bed, won’t let you leave quietly… it can all be exhausting.
But I try to find little moments of pleasure in the hour+ the bedtime ritual takes: Singing silly songs in the bath, her clean smell, her enthusiastic application of lotion to her arms and legs, the snuggles, the bedtime kisses.
Last night, she was perusing the bookshelf in her room when she realized LO! There is an entire top shelf to this thing, full of big, thick books with no pictures (Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and Mary Poppins series and other books from my youth). She reached for the tiniest book on the shelf – a kid-size directory to Catholic saints related in some way to children. I got the book as a gift for my first communion, and I know that because I wrote my name and the date inside the front cover.
As I read different “saint profiles,” she became more and more interested in what I was talking about. Even when I thought she was asleep, she’d perk up at a name (Ursula! Sea witch from the Little Mermaid! Or Joseph! Jesus’ Daddy!).
When I paused to turn a page, she looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, Where’s God?”
Wow. I was pretty quick on my feet and answered that a little bit of God was in each one of us – in R, in Mommy, in Daddy.
“Mommy, I’m God!”
Not exactly the response I was hoping for, but I worked with it, telling her again God was in everybody: her friends, her teachers at school, Uncle Kris and Aunt Lisa and Baby I, her grandparents.
“What God look like?”
I told her everyone had their own idea of what God looks like, we could all imagine him any way we wanted. R decided God looks like a butterfly. Sensing an opportunity, I asked her if she wanted to say her bedtime prayers. So we went through the classic bedtime prayer a couple of times, and by the third time, she was repeating some of it with me.
Raising this child may sometimes make me want to scream, yell and throw things. But sometimes, she shows me what grace really is.