I can honestly say that I am a mother who has bowed her head to thank God for head lice. Of course, that was not my first inclination. In fact, it was more like I lifted my head up to complain to God about head lice. But God, in His goodness and sovereignty in all situations, gently reminded me of His Word, which instructs us to "in all things give thanks." So there in my bathroom, I bowed my head, and I thanked a sovereign God for head lice.
My daughter was in first grade and had recently asked me to teach her how to wash her hair all by herself. So, we began the lesson of hair washing. She would wash, and I would inspect. One night, as I began to inspect, I noticed something I had never before seen in her hair. With each part of the comb, there was more. Then, it hit me. These were nits, the eggs left behind by head lice. My daughter and I both cried. I realize that may sound a little silly, but in that moment it felt shameful and overwhelming to both of us. We just held each other for a few moments and allowed the tears to flow. I soon realized there was no need to panic or to keep her up any later than necessary. The invaders had most likely taken up residence a few days before they were discovered. I decided that what we both needed was a good night's rest before tackling the job of nit picking. It could wait until tomorrow. So, with our usual bedtime routine behind us, I crawled into bed, dreading the task before me in the morning.
After breakfast, I dug in. I should mention that my little girl had very long, very thick, very curly, and very blonde hair. The process took hours. It was at the end of the second hour, and during a much-needed break for both of us, that I retreated to the privacy of the bathroom. In the respite of my quiet space I bowed my head and began to unload my frustration to God. But God, in His goodness, kindly tuned my heart to Him and lovingly reminded me that this too would soon pass. God reminded me that while exhausting and even inconvenient, the lice would soon be gone. Our lives would quickly and almost painlessly return to normal. There would be no lasting scars or disabilities, no physical or emotional loss. It was just lice. What a poignant lesson and one that I have carried all these years. God was kindly reminding me that immediate relief and healing was not the case for so many mothers and their little ones. I realized in my moment of weakness that somewhere there was a mother begging God for the chemotherapy coursing through her child's body to kill the cancer and spare her child's life. That somewhere there was a mother watching her permanently disabled child struggle with daily tasks that my child could easily navigate and that I had taken for granted. And somewhere in the world, there was yet another mother praying for the daily provision of food to feed her child, while my cabinets were full. The Lord humbled my spirit and changed my grumbling to praise. So there, in the privacy and respite of my bathroom, I bowed my head to earnestly and sincerely thank God for head lice. With a renewed spirit and a grateful heart I finished the task at hand. I spent the remainder of the day snuggled close to my little daughter. It had been a humbling and praiseworthy day.
The following day, I decided we needed a day off. Our need to heal from the day before was far greater than the lessons planned in her first-grade classroom. She would not miss out on anything that could potentially derail her academic progress. Not a thing that would trip her up on the SAT or keep her from college acceptance. Our need to just be in that moment on that day was far greater and would carry her much further than any academic achievement or lack thereof. Sometimes kids and mommas just need to pause and simply be together doing nothing but relationship building. It was that kind of day. As I bowed my head that night to pray, I once again thanked God for head lice and for the beautiful lesson He had so kindly taught me.
Moms, there are going to be days like these. Your plans will be interrupted by child-raising bumps in the road like stomach bugs, sore throats, flu, and maybe even head lice. Call your boss, and clear your calendar. The priority for that day is your child. Embrace the opportunity to be mother and nurse–make chicken soup and keep cool cloths on a little forehead, stroke hair and hum sweet lullabies, read books and watch cartoons. Just be there. Be present in the moment–soothing and reassuring, nurturing and responding to big fears from your little people. The days are long, especially when they are sick, but I assure you that the years are very short. Be grateful for the inconveniences that cause us to pause in the business of life and thank God that this too shall pass. Show love and patience with your children when they are throwing up and running a fever so that they will trust you to care for them during their middle school and high school years when their hearts are broken by disappointment and loss of relationships. The remedies to relieve and soothe may not be as simple as they once were, but they still need the same love and patience from you.