As I watched the tiny hairless creature suck formula from an artist’s paintbrush at 3:30 AM I smiled. What the heck is wrong with me???
Last week we found a nest of three itty bitty mice in the curtains or our camper. I was not thrilled with this discovery, nor with the accompanying holes in said curtains. I naively called the children after discovering the source of the faint squeaks. “Look! Baby chipmunks. Or mice. Or something.”
I knew where this would lead. But I wanted to show them these tiny miracles anyway. Immediately the chorus of “We have to save them!!” began. The girls quickly googled websites about newborn rodents’ care. Off I went to pick up pedialyte and puppy formula (who even knew that existed before?!).
Gently, the girls placed the see-through-skinned treasures in soft bedding and watched their wiggling. I got worried texts while at the store. “Mom, how soon will you be back?” “I’m worried that they might be cold.” “I’m worried they might be hot.” “I think the mom must be looking for them.” “Do you think the mom will ever come back?”
Let’s pause here for a little family history lesson. When we started to remodel our current house we discovered that it had been infested with mice. That led to us completely gutting the home and starting over.
One year of demolition. One year of redesign. Two years of rebuilding. Four years of limbo. From mice.
The finished product is far more wonderful and perfect for our family than our original plans. But that doesn’t negate the years of work, tears, upheaval, and expense. From mice. (And horrific wiring; but that’s another story.)
Our home is surrounded by rodent bait boxes. Our barn is surrounded by rodent bait boxes.
But we must feed these three every two hours. With a tiny paintbrush. We must dampen q-tips and stimulate their bottoms to make them poop. We must do our best to help these three grow and mature.
The first night created three sleep deprived people in our home. The babies must eat! My husband even woke at one point to come check on them under their glowing warm light. My son slept like an unconcerned baby.
Day two’s activities were determined by the amount of time away from home things would take. Day three Squirmington, Pixie, and Bubs went with us on a trip to visit family. Yes, they had names. Yes, we warmed their formula and cleaned their bottoms.
Regularly, my husband and I reminded everyone of the saga of Baby Bird from a few years ago. “It’s very hard for people to help tiny creatures survive, you know.” My middle daughter cried for days after the demise of Baby Bird. I dreaded this inevitable outcome.
Day four brought the loss of Squirmington. By then, the only child truly interested in the well-being of the mice was my middle child. And she was all in. She watched the remaining two babies like a hawk. She googled what to do about air bubbles in the belly. (You can see through their skin to their organs. Yes. They are THAT tiny.) She patiently massaged his/her? belly with a vaseline covered q-tip to try removing the gas. That’s what google said to do. Worry appeared on her face. Eventually, Pixie joined her brother in the tiny box coffin.
I found myself reassuring my daughter regularly that she was doing all she could. I gently reminded her that we can’t save every delicate tiny creature. No matter how diligently we try.
So, here I found myself babying an arch nemesis in the middle of the night. Because one I love valued them. Because one I love could not let go yet. Because my child needed rest. Because my parent’s heart broke at the pain in her eyes.
And then it dawned on me. Sometimes God does that too.
Sometimes He allows us to stay in a hopeless situation because we aren’t ready to leave. He allows us to gradually release our grasp on damaging habits, people, beliefs. He doesn’t pry our fingers from the fraying rope. We must willingly let go for real change to happen. Sometimes He peels one finger at a time away from the problem.
But only if we allow Him to.
He is the perfect parent. He is not a forceful puppet master. Even when it pains Him to watch His child struggle needlessly, He patiently watches and waits. He holds our hand as we take one more step toward Him. He cuddles us as we weep from the peeling away of people, thoughts, beliefs, things. He understands our pain.
And when we finally are ready to move forward, He is there. Arms outstretched and smiling. He helps us bury the destructive thing. He posts a marker to our progress. He allows our memories to remain so we can reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going.
So, for now I will continue setting an alarm for the 3:15 feeding. For now I will store two itty bitty bodies in a small jewelry box in my freezer. And I will wait for my love to let go. I will hold her when the grief hits. I will tell her I am proud of her.
I smile at her growth.
And God smiles at mine.