I prepared myself for the worst. We could potentially be in for a lot of whining and fit pitching. I mean, that pacifier, well, does it's job. It pacifies her. It's a source of comfort. She climbed into my bed that morning, smiling her sweet smile.
"Give Mama your paci, Jujubean," I commanded as I do many mornings. She cheerfully handed it over, jabbering with that adorable husky voice. She was used to giving me her pacifier in the morning, but how would she do when she realized she wasn't going to get it back... ever?
I tried to keep it short. Two-year-olds tend to have short attention spans. She didn't need me giving her a long explanation, and I was pretty sure she wasn't going to care about the reasons anyway. "Molly-wally, it's time to let go of that pacifier for good. You're a big girl now, not a baby, so we have to let it go."
She probably wanted to say, "We? We? Where's the we in this picture?" But yeah, I have to say, I had become fairly attached to the pacifier as well. It's much easier to hand her a paci when she's whining rather than handle the situation properly. I knew it would require change in me as well.
She did have a little mini-meltdown at one point that morning as she called out its name. "Paaaaaaaciiiiiii... paaaaaaciiiiii!" I knew her pain. I remember when my parents took away my pacifier. Well, actually, I think they flushed it when it accidentally fell in the toilet. But of course, Mommy always has a back-up, and at one point I came across one of them and shoved it in my mouth. The rubber no longer tasted that yummy (I'm thinking the nipple was decaying- those things don't last forever), but it was a pacifier, and we all know pacifiers are like crack, so I decided I would keep it, nasty taste and all. But... man, it really was gross. It wasn't as great as I remembered... and... well, maybe I'll just set it down and.... hmm, where did it go?
So yes, I know what it's like to have to let go of a pacifier against my will. And I also know what it's like to have to let go of things that pacify me, that comfort and soothe, that I don't really want to let go of. It's as if God says, "You know, she's ready. She doesn't know that yet, and it's not going to be easy, but it's time. We're going to work through this together."
Nap time comes. I lay her down and as I turn to walk away, she begins to wail. It's the sob of a mourning child. I'm sure she thinks she needs it. Must. Have. It. How will she live without it?
I return and tell her to roll over. She probably thinks I'm walking away, but as she rolls over, I kneel beside her bed and gently rub her back. I remember the way my dad used to gently run his fingers over my hands and how it made me so, so tired.....
I take her little pudgy hand in mine, tracing each of her fingers. Her eyes become heavy. I sing. I pray over her, and I carefully, carefully tip toe out of the room. And I don't stop singing until I have shut the door and left the hallway. This has become to new routine this week. I saturate her with my presence. I fill her up, and she rests in it.
I'm reminded that often God gives us things for a season. We wrap our hearts around them, and then, after a time, He asks for them back. Sometimes there are things in our lives that we shouldn't have, and He wants to remove them for our benefit. I would say that His purpose in taking things from our hands is so that He can fill them with something even more amazing—His Presence.
And that is what I felt the Lord whispered to me that morning—yes, it's time to take the pacifier away, but give her something of more value.... your time, your presence. Rather than groaning about the time it now requires to soothe her to sleep, I rejoice in the bonding moment the Lord has created in this gap, and recognize that He is doing the same in my life.
I see this struggle in her I know too well. Sometimes I find her huddled in the corner with her baby sister's tiny pacifier, those big eyes peering up at me with a silent plea. I remind her that she doesn't need it. She's doing so well. She can do this. And yet I know her desperateness because I am often but a little toddler crying out for the things that pacify me, thinking I must have them. Wondering how I can do without them. Using them as a substitute for God's comforting Presence.
Deep down, I want all those pacifiers removed because what I really want, above all else, more than anything.... is Him.