It’s 2 a.m. and all is silent. Well, all except for the sound of a sweet little voice whispering, “Mommy.” Awoken from a deep sleep and bleary-eyed, I try to make out the figure standing next to my bed with the help of the ambient light from the hallway night light.
Short. Sandy-colored hair. Mickey Mouse pajamas. Must be the 5-year-old.
“Hey buddy,” I whisper back. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“Yeah,” he says.
“Okay, come on in,” I say as I open the covers and make a spot for him. As I hold him close I say, “It was all pretend. It’s not real. Mommy’s here. Try to close your eyes and go back to sleep.”
I drift back off to sleep but about an hour later, I wake to the buzzsaw snores of said 5-year-old and realize that he has completely and perfectly angled his body so that his feet are pushing his Daddy off of one side of the bed and his head is strategically placed between my shoulder blades, thus pushing me off of the other side of the bed. How is it that one small human can take up an entire queen size bed?
At this point, I can be absolutely certain that the 5-year-old will wake in another few hours completely rested and ready to start his day. But the Mama? Nope. Her only hope of survival is to caffeinate and to think happy thoughts about being able to sleep the following night.
But the following night, it’s the 9-year-old’s turn. The wake-up call is at 1 a.m. this time.
The 9-year-old can’t sleep due to a nightmare and he is much harder to console. His dreams seem more vivid and real and as he hops into Mama’s bed, his heart is racing with fear. He lays there with his eyes open and I can feel every bit of his anxious energy. I look at him every 20 minutes to see if his eyes are closing and realize that the idea of sleep is once again lost on both of us until he finally gives in to the exhaustion and falls asleep at 4 a.m. An hour later, his little brother comes in ready to start the day and I take comfort in the warm coffee that I know is, once again, going to get me through.
In those wee hours, I find comfort in knowing that I can calm their fears and they feel safest in Mama’s arms. I take comfort in remembering that it is not as bad as when they were babies and I was up every 3 hours. I take comfort in thinking of those 10 months straight where, at 2 years old, my youngest was ready to start the day at 4:30 a.m. Every. Single. Morning.
I know that it will all be over in the blink of an eye and Mama will once again be able to sleep through the night. When they are 16, they won’t be crawling into my bed for comfort and the nightmares won’t be as common as they begin to make sense of the line between reality and fantasy.
Man does it suck, though.
So, for now, let’s acknowledge that it is exhausting to be a Mama and we are tired. We are doing the best we can with our caffeinated selves. We are holding onto our lattes while we hold it together. And we are dreaming of the magical day when we will again be able to sleep through the night.
To all you tired Mamas out there… I see you and I raise my coffee cup to you in solidarity.