The other day I was reading very old posts from the beginning of this website – late 2003 and after that. Alex and Julia (once Julia made her appearance in May of 2004) were very young, and I didn't always get a decent night's sleep back then.
I remember, through a fog, many nights when I was up at all hours with Julia, my small, loud nocturnal creature. I remember drifting through the days, brain fuzzy and dull, just focusing on making it to the next place, the next task, the next meal, because I couldn't really think any farther ahead than that.
And I remember how odd it was when Julia finally, finally started to sleep through the night.
I'd wake up with a start at, say, two in the morning, and sit up, not breathing, just listening to the monitor to make sure I could hear her breathing. Because if she wasn't awake, then surely something must be wrong with her, right? Sometimes I'd even get out of bed and creep to the room the kids shared and tiptoe to the side of Julia's crib and listen until I heard her slow, even breathing, or until she moved something – a hand, a foot, her mouth. Then I'd tiptoe back to bed, puzzled by this new reality, and I'd eventually fall back to sleep.
Now, now that she's five-going-on-six, she sleeps just fine. I like to look in on her before I turn in for the night. She is usually tangled in sheets and blankets, one arm loosely looped around Pinky, the floppy pink elephant she's had since forever, and her hair seems to be in motion around her slightly sweaty little head. Her lashes are long and thick against her cheeks, and her mouth is slightly pursed and slightly opened, like she's about to say "What?" at any moment. I tuck her back in and kiss her on the cheek and whisper "I love you, my baby" and walk quietly from the room.
I look in on Alex, too, of course. He is so tall. So long and gangly. Elbows and knees stick out everywhere from under the sheets, and it's almost like he's got a few extra that I hadn't noticed earlier. He has adorable freckles across his nose. He sleeps deeply, his face slack, his breathing soft and rhythmic. Sometimes his mouth purses, like he's saying "oooh," and he looks, to me, exactly like he looked as a tiny baby, sound asleep and sated after nursing. I kiss him on the cheek and on his head (why do kids sweat so much in sleep? What are they doing in those dreams?) and his cheek. Sometimes his nose twitches a bit when I do that, pesky fly that I must seem to be. I whisper "I love you, my boy," and I walk quietly from the room.
No matter what the days are like, no matter how – let's be honest – crazy they make me at times, or how annoying their bickering can become, at night, they are sweet again, and I miss their babyhood, except for the diapers.
It goes so fast.
Last night at midnight, just as it became Mother's Day in my time zone, Bill and I woke up to the sound of Julia crying loudly and calling "MamaMamaMama!" She hadn't felt well earlier – said her belly hurt but couldn't be more specific. No fever, no sharp, shooting pains, just "my belly hurts." I gave her a bath and read Little House in the Big Woods to her while she was in the tub, and that seemed to help. I put the belly pain down to too much snacking and not enough good stuff.
So at midnight, as I kicked my feet out of bed and headed down the hall to her room, I had to laugh (to myself) at the humor of the situation. I brought her downstairs to the couch, we popped in a movie (Ratatouille) and I pulled the ottoman over next to the couch so I could be right there next to her. She fell asleep eventually, after the tears subsided, and I tried to sleep, curled uncomfortably on the ottoman with my feet up on the couch. I dozed briefly during the middle of the movie, then shut it off when it was done and left the tv on. I listened to bits and pieces of "Everybody Hates Chris" on Nick, and Julia woke up around 4, happy and with no belly pain. I deduced, during the night, that she'd been having really bad gas pains, as evidenced by the foul emissions put forth between midnight and four. She seemed better, and ready to head back to her own bed for an hour or two.
So we went back upstairs, I tucked her in and staggered back to my own bed, trying to straighten out the ottoman-induced kinks in my neck and right shoulder and lower back.
This morning, the kids gave me cards they'd made, some chocolate, and a begonia that Alex had secreted home in his backpack on Friday.
I've got bialy dough rising, and other goodies planned for brunch. My parents and my sister and her kids will be here, and it should be a nice, relaxing time.
Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. May you sleep well tonight. 🙂