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A Prayer for Cheerful Insomnia

alec vanderboom

My two year old daughter, Maria, has sleep problems. Very bad problems.

One of the lasting effects of colic is that it disrupts the natural sleep rhythms first learned at 4 months. Instead of waking up, taking a snack and then gently drifting back to sleep, our Maria woke up hungry as a baby, took a drink and then screamed with burning, painful reflux for the next twenty minutes. She outgrew the colic and infant reflux at age one, but sleeping through the night is more of a challenge.

Two years later, we're still dealing with a child who wakes up frequently in the night and has trouble getting herself back to sleep.

This winter, Jon and I have spent a lot of time awake at 3 AM. Our baby wakes up with cough or a sneeze attack and neither of us can get back to sleep. Six months ago, I would have called my pediatrician and read every self-help book on this subject. I don't know if it's Carmel or my tired, pregnant body, but I've embraced this cross. I simply think this current insomnia is good practice for the newborn that will be coming into our lives this summer.

A prayer by Saint Thomas Moore, that I gleaned from watching "A Man of All Seasons" has made all the difference.

"Lord help me get a good night's rest. If that is impossible, please make me cheerful in the morning."

Now, when I'm up in the early hours of the morning, I pray for the dying. I catch up on my spiritual reading. I clean up my messy house. I trust completely that the Lord will make me cheerful the next day, despite my exhaustion.

That prayer has never failed me yet!

(I love that living in the spirit of Carmel is much easier than following the complicated parenting advice of today's experts. God knew I was to stupid and slothful to follow an elaborate parenting plan for four distinct children, so He wisely put me in "the special reading group" that is my Mother Mary's heart.)