When our first baby was only about six weeks old, Chad and I decided to drive to another town for dinner. She had been a difficult newborn, to say the least. She had terrible acid reflux that had yet to be diagnosed, and she cried for hours at a time. Chad was a young lawyer, struggling to keep up with his work load. I was a stressed, exhausted first time mom, just trying to keep my head above water, while mostly drowning in my own discouragement and desperation to figure out why my baby wouldn’t just be happy.
So, we threw all caution to the wind and we drove off with our precious little doll all strapped in the backseat, determined to enjoy a dinner out and possibly salvage some semblance of what our pre-baby life had been like. It was quite a distance from our small town to any place, but the hour-long drive went off without any kind of ruckus from the backseat. Sweet Adelade slept soundly all the way there. We were elated. We arrived at the restaurant, gingerly carried her inside, and, mercy of all mercies, she slept through the ENTIRE DINNER. We hardly knew what to do with ourselves.
We tiptoed back to our car, whispering all the way so as not to ruin this gloriously quiet evening. Chad put the car in gear, and we were off. About two minutes later, Adelade awoke. It was almost as if she woke up, realized that we had tricked her into sleeping for two hours, and erupted into a furious frenzy of choking, squirming, sweaty, outraged crying.
We stopped the car. We tried feeding her. We tried cuddling her. Bouncing her. Burping her. Changing her diaper. We tried reasoning with her. Begging her. Still, the crying continued. Just when we thought it couldn’t possibly get louder or more pitiful, it did. She was red-faced and tear-stained. No paci, blankie, mommy, or daddy could fix this problem. Adelade was going to cry, and there was nothing we could do about it.
Finally, we decided we couldn’t sit in our car for the rest of the night. We had to get home, where at least we could put on comfortable pants while the crying jag continued. So, we did the only thing we could do. We strapped that furious little baby girl back into her car seat. And we drove.
For the first ten minutes, we sat in silence, listening miserably to our baby’s pitiful cries. My hands were clenched in my lap. Chad’s knuckles were white as he held tightly to the steering wheel. Then, suddenly, he released his death grip on the wheel and reached over to turn on the radio.
He found a country station, and he turned it up loud. Quietly at first, we started singing along. Adelade continued to cry her little heart out.
After a few minutes, a good old 90s country song came on. We sang as loud as Adelade cried. We looked at each other and started to smile a little bit. When the next song started, we kept singing. Pretty soon, he was drumming on the steering wheel, and I was playing air guitar, and we were grinning at each other in the dark, even while our hearts were aching for our sweet first child, crying endlessly through the clear Texas night.
We could’ve ridden home in tense silence, taking every single sad little noise from the backseat straight to our hearts. We could’ve wallowed in the misery of the sixth week of a baby who needed medicine that the doctor hadn’t yet prescribed. We could’ve easily cried ourselves, letting the frustration and exhaustion overtake us.
But, instead of doing any of those things, we sang. We didn’t forget about our miserable little charge back there. Far from it. But, we did learn, on that longest hour-long drive of all time, that sometimes you just have to sing anyway. Sometimes when you’re driving through the miserable dark of a rough time, you just have to sing like it’s all going to be okay. And then you have to trust that God is going to make it okay. Because He is.
I don’t remember how the rest of our night went once we got our little yowler home. I’m betting that the crying continued throughout the night, as it did most every night. It would be two more weeks before we would discover the miracle medicine that turned her into the happiest, most delightful little baby we ever met. But, I’ll never forget that longest drive through the dark, when we remembered that sometimes, when you’re at your most helpless, when your tears have been cried and exhaustion is taking over, when you feel like you’re close to crumbling in defeat, it helps to sing anyway. Sing. Trust. Remember His goodness. Remember His blessings. Smile a little.
And, before you know it, the long, dark ride is over, and you’re sitting on your couch in your comfortable pants with a smiling baby on your knee. Or something like that.
Sing anyway. And, wait to see what He will do.