Trying to take care of an infant on home assignment is kind of like trying to put on lipstick while white water rafting, or cramming for a calculas exam at a Rage Against the Machine concert. Hypothetically it can be done, but who in their right mind would attempt such a thing?
Last month I shared how we were pretty fried because of Evan’s sleep issues. We blamed that on the incapability of a home assignment schedule and living life with an infant. We knew Evan needed to sleep, but we also needed to raise support and attend conferences. We knew we were pushing Evan a bit, but how could we skip a late afternoon meeting with a supporter? The more we stretched him, the more Evan was waking up every 45 minutes throughout the night. And I’m also pretty certain that with our lack of sleep we could have both been tested positive for insanity. So much for being the perfectly industrious missionary family that re-raises support while simultaneously traveling 800 miles a week in a 1990 Ford beater, surviving on peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, and sleeping in youth hostiles.
In our desperation, we hired a baby sleep coach and decided to follow her advice religiously. As she asked us questions about our routine, we could tell that our unique home assignment expectations were the problem. We asked her, “So how do you connect with supporters that cannot meet until evening?” “How do you adjust bedtime to speak at small groups, Bible studies, etc.?” “How do you skip naps for Sunday school presentations?
We should have seen her answer coming. “You don’t.” She gave us a list of nonnegotiables for our schedule and helped us refocus on reality. Evan needs 3 hours of napping time each day and must be in bed by 7:00pm. Period. We have to make home assignment work around that. If one of has to do the presentation alone, or if we simply cannot present at the extra missions conference, so be it. It’s hard to accept that we are perhaps behind with the missionary standards for industry and flexibility, but we are asking God to be gracious. I’m sure there are other missionary families out there with infants that are running circles around us. They probably even organize evangelistic events on their free days. But let’s be honest, right now I’m just glad I am sleeping again.