I tend to believe that when you are faced with impending parenthood you often think that there will be a lot of sleepless nights, you gear up for a screaming baby, maybe you even anticipate some sort of frustration due to your typical schedule being thrown to the wind. The goodthing is that all these thoughts are completely normal, and getting used to the changes associated with having a new baby can be difficult.
I’ll give you a scenario… way too true to life and definitely a night I’ve experienced more than a couple times in the past several years. Ok: All of your kids are in bed by 7:30, you have the rest of the night to yourself. Your husband decided he needed to work late that night and gets home at around 9 and you want to spend some time with him. Fast forward to 11 o’clock and you are finally pouring yourself into bed and excited for a good nights sleep. You snooze away until 12:30 when you are violently woken up by screaming coming through the baby monitor and in a fog you stumble to the kids room and pick up the owner of the scream: a teething baby. You nurse her (or him) and put them back to bed. Soon enough you are settling back into a deep slumber. All of a sudden you feel like someone is watching you. You open your eyes in the dark… AN APPARITION! No…. its a 4 year old and its 2:30am. She’s scared and wants to cuddle. “Two seconds,” you mutter. She crawls into bed with you and you count to two, after which she runs to her room, gets her pillow and blanket and makes a bed for herself on your floor. Sleep comes slightly easier this time, so you fade. 4:30am… screaming… hmmmm. Teething baby again. Its harder to get out of bed this time, but you manage. Boob, cuddle, rock/sway, back in bed. After what seems like 10 minutes you hear giggling, gurgling and the like over the stupid blessed baby monitor. Its 6am. Your angelic beings have decided that they want to get up with the sun this morning. So you roll yourself out of the warmth of your bed and embrace the day, tired but alive.
A night like this can be approached one of two ways. You can either be angry/frustrated/whatever or you can be thankful. “Thankful?” you ask. How in the world could one person be thankful for getting so few broken hours of sleep?? One word: perspective. It might come as a shock but you could possibly go through your entire day and not get a single moment of alone time with your children. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos and busy-ness of life and completely miss out on quiet moments with our babies.
Consider this: every time that one of your kids calls out to you in the night, they desire something. Lucky for you, what they desire is exactly what you have in the middle of the night: TIME. When I am cuddling with my baby girl at 2 in the morning I am able to gain important knowledge of her. I learn the curve of her cheek as I run my hand down her face to settle her. I bask in her baby smell. In the still of the night I hear her subtle hum while she breathes heavily, nursing, content and falls back into a deep sleep. When my 3 year old yells my name in the night I am able to do something almost noone else can. He lays on my chest, hugs me tightly and I make him feel safe. My precious 4 year old believes that the best place that she can sleep is nestled in the curve of my stomach. And my big 6 year old, even still, just wants to know that he will always be my baby.
It’s not easy. Noone said it would be. And I, more than anybody, need constant reminders of how precious this time is. However, it is so important to embrace these special opportunities, because they will be gone before we know it.