Like many recent mornings, the twins woke me up between 4 and 4:30 am, much too early for me to be giddy or well-tempered. Since I can remember, I had a reputation for being super cranky when sleep-deprived, tired, or hungry. There is a distinction between sleep-deprivation and being tired, however small the gap might be. With taking care of four small children, ranging between the ages of 2 and 7, teaching some online classes, writing, and fulfilling other responsibilities – not sleeping enough is a perpetual part of my routine and my life. Being tired can be more the result of something short-term, like not sleeping enough the night before or doing too much during a day. Back to my story, I have been grievously sleep-deprived and tired. I heard cries for going to the potties. Yes, when one twin has to go to the potty, so does the other; so, we have two potties. There were cries to nurse. The girl twin wanted her blanket and could not find it in the dark. Then her twin brother wanted his blanket. The twins wanted me to turn the lights on. I told them the sun was sleeping, their sisters were sleeping, I wanted to sleep, and the twins still needed to sleep; it was too early in the morning to get up. Then, my 7 year old started chattering, ensuring no one went back to sleep. I wanted to lie in bed; I desperately wanted to go back to sleep. Last night’s debilitating headache was still quite fresh on my mind.
Unfortunately, instead of calmly explaining to my eldest that the sun had not yet risen and that we all need to quietly go back to sleep, I reinforced my reputation for being Ms. Cranky-Pants. I offered several short-tempered responses to my 7 year old, reminding her that she herself admitted to being cranky on little sleep and chattering was keeping herself from going back to sleep as well as preventing her brother and sister from sleeping. I told my eldest that since she was not eager to go back to sleep, she could keep her twin sister and brother company while I crawled back into my bed under the warm blankets, hoping to fall back into deep slumber, whilst the twins sat on their potties. Despite and through my impatience, my 7 year old calmly and patiently obliged.
I was not in bed for more than a few minutes when thoughts of gratitude flooded my mind and my heart. Soon, rather than slowly sinking into a dreaming state, I found myself popping out of bed to apologize to my firstborn for being short with her. I put my hand on her shoulder and then rubbed her upper back, since she responds well to touch, lovingly made eye contact with her, and offered her amends. I explicitly said I was sorry and explained why I was apologizing, not assigning blame to her in any way but taking full responsibility for what I had done. I was sorry for impatiently speaking to her, in my tiredness. I also thanked her for responding calmly and nicely. Kindness and gentleness looked back at me; my heart filled with joy and gratitude.
Not even a couple of hours later, still early, around 7:30 am, as we were getting ready for a breakfast outing, my 7 year old thanked me for apologizing to her earlier. That seemingly insignificant comment brought tears to my eyes. Right then (as well as earlier, after I apologized to her and she responded with kindness and gentleness), I caught a glimpse of the heaven, of the Lord Jesus, full of beauty, kindness, love, and forgiveness.
When I told the children that I felt like I got a glimpse of heaven from this morning's exchanges, my eldest wanted to draw heaven. Here it is.