Here are some reasons young children wake up in the night: teething, fever, diarhea, flu, nightmares, sibling's nightmares, falling out of bed, too much sugar, not enough dinner, too much tv, not enough covers, too many covers, overstimulation, bug bites, lost stuffed animal, misplaced blankie, airconditioning noise, heater noise, flushing toilets, cruisers and honkers, friends with no kids acting like you have no kids, thunder, lightning, cats in heat, and your neighbor's dog. If you are a parent, this list is familiar to you. You know that heart-racing sense of dread that overtakes you when you are deep in sleep one moment, and abrubtly awakened the next by one of your children down the hall. That dread begins at the newborn stage (when you sleep 30-45 minutes at a time in between the two-hour feeding schedule), and continues until your toddler finally learns to pull up his covers, stay in bed, and sleep securely until morning. That is one of the best days in a mother's life is it not?--the day you wake up naturally to the crack of sunlight peeking through your curtains.
This Saturday was not one of those days. Our neighbor's dog, who has recently started sleeping outside, begins petitioning for breakfast at 5:42 am. This obtrusively loud entreaty disrupts our 13 month old Judah's sleep, consequently waking up my 3 and 5 yr. olds, resulting in Troy and me stumbling out of bed to fulfill everyone's request for milk and breakfast. If you are a morning person-kind of mom who speaks sweet and patient words first thing in the morning, please cover your eyes: I wanted to poison the neighbor's dog and tell my kids to get their own milk and go watch anything they wanted on TV. But I didn't. Past experience told me that my attitude at the start of Saturday would ultimately affect every other moment in our family the rest of the weekend. Something about my friend, the Proverbs 31 woman, lit the faintest flicker of fire under me: "It is hard to find an excellent wife. She is worth more than rubies...She gets up while it is still dark. She prepares food for her family..." (v.15) This is that woman who doesn't count on charm--for it is deceitful, and doesn't trust in beauty--for it is fleeting, but "fears the Lord, she shall be praised." (v.30) I fear the Lord; so, I got up with my kids, and chose to love it. That's one of the perks of studying God's Word; it sticks in your heart and keeps you from sinning when you least expect it: "I have hidden your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11)
So, Troy and I sat on the couch at 6 am on Saturday morning with three boys on our laps, complete with blankets, animals, and sippy cups. Instead of harassing our neighbor, feeling annoyed at our kids, and throwing ourselves a pity party, we decided to take our first family trip to the Flea Market. It turned out to be a beautiful morning, sunny and breezy, filled with the delightful treasures of another's outcasts. Row after row of glassware, toys, hardware, antiques, all waiting expectantly to be appreciated in a new light. What did I find? My gem was simply this: that just as one man's junk is another man's treasure...a neighborly nuisance can become an unexpected delight.