My bedside manners aren’t very good. Especially when I’m the one in bed.

Oh how I remember those nights, when out of a sound slumber, I would feel the hot breath on my cheek, then hear a little voice in the darkness say,  “Mom… Mommy? Mom…” And I would will my heavy eyelids to open and my vision to focus on the little wide-eyed face, in the grey of night.

I know that many moms, in this situation, get up and carry their little ones back to bed, and stay at their side till they are calm. Or they make a little nest in bed beside them, and let their child snuggle into the crook of their arm. Or they pull them into a tight hug and settle into a rocking chair, using the gentle sway of the chair to lull the heaviness of sleep back over their child.

This sounds so very sweet and motherly, but like I said, my bedside manners aren’t very good. I could never get myself awake well enough to be the sort of midnight Mommy I wanted to be!What worked for me was a 101 Dalmatians sleeping bag, which I kept tucked under my side of the bed–ready to pull out for any little soul who needed comfort.  I’m ashamed to say that I could pull the thing out, with one hand dangling down; I didn’t even have to get out of bed.

But somehow, even though I wasn’t as sweet and motherly as I wish I would have been, my little ones found comfort just in being near me. I remember how they would sigh with a slight shudder, when they were scared, and I would hum into the darkness, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you, I will trust in You, I will trust in You…” My voice would trail off as sleep overtook me. Then another whimper would rouse me, so I’d reach my hand down and stroke that silky head of hair and sing again, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You…”

Sadly, my children have grown up. The 101 Dalmatian sleeping bag was donated to Goodwill years ago. Nobody comes to find me in the middle of the night. I wish they would, but they are too grown up for that. Too grown up to say they are frightened by a nightmare or are tossing over a comment at the lunch table or scared by the ‘what if’s’ that fill the darkness.

But hopefully, they remember my song in the night. It’s all I truly have to give them. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You…” The Lord bids us to draw near in the dark, the way a sweet Mama wants her babies close when they are sick or scared. My bedside manners may be lacking, but He makes up for every way that I lack. I’m so glad my children can claim His promises in the night:

He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:3b-4

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