Thursday, April 28, 2011

Losing Sleep (and not bitching about it)

A terrible cold is currently rampaging its way through my little family of four.  Sophie had it first, then she shared it with her dad, her brother, and me, so we are all congested, headachy, and coughing.  Unfortunately, one of the traits of this particular cold is that it is nearly impossible to sleep, so for two nights now, we haven't.

Last night was particularly bad.  We put Sophie to bed at eight-thirty, and she reappeared in the living room every 15 minutes or so, until when I went to bed at ten, she still wasn't asleep.  She wanted a drink, or to "sneeze her no,'" or to go potty, or me to cover her up, or to snuggle her, or to sing with her.  Now, it isn't unheard of for her to resist bedtime, sometimes ferociously.  And it gets annoying, and sometimes we overreact.  But last night, I tried to snuggle her to sleep and she still stayed awake, and after we put her back in her room, she came back again and again.

Around two a.m., as she came to my bedside for the fourth or fifth time, I let her in bed with me, nestled way over on my side so she didn't bother her dad, who was also sick and restless and thoroughly frustrated with her.  Normally I would have been frustrated, too, and cranky with her for not staying in bed, but she was clearly miserable and unable to sleep, just like us, so I let her snuggle in beside me.

But as I lay there in the dark, fried from the lack of sleep and uncomfortable because of the humidity from the running vaporizer, the nagging cough, the pressure in my ears, and my unshaven legs,  I didn't feel any of the things I expected to feel, the things I usually feel.  I didn't feel frustrated with Sophie, or annoyed with Greg because he was frustrated with Sophie, or cranky that I would have to get up for work without having had any rest, or put upon because it's hard to sleep with a toddler lying on your face.  I just felt joy.  Joy and gratitude.

Even when Joel woke up at 4 a.m., needing changed and fed, I didn't feel the usual exasperation.  I just enjoyed his smiles and coos as I changed him, then took him to bed and nursed him back to sleep as Sophie played with my free elbow.  Normally, being the center of a mommy sandwich at just before dawn on a workday would leave me irritated, but as I lay there between my sweet babies, I had an overwhelming sense that things were supposed to be just this way, and that this was what mothering is all about. 

My alarm went off at six.  I got up, trying to stay quiet in case Greg had been able to fall asleep.  I tucked Joel into his crib and got ready for work.  Everything I did was routine: showered, dressed, packed a lunch, packed the diaper bag, ate breakfast, laid out Sophie's clothes, nursed baby Joel... Nothing extraordinary, nothing new.  But through it all, I took unusual pleasure in all of those things. 

Greg, being the whirlwind of efficiency that he is, had the kids in the car and off to the sitter by 7:25, and that left me with 15 minutes to wander around our home, straightening up here and there, basking in the afterglow of a strange and wonderful morning.

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