Wednesday, December 3, 2014

silence laced with breath...

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Last night the four of us snuggled in bed and watched the Toy Story Christmas special on TV. We sat under the heaviness of the down comforter, smooshed up against each other.Our hands all gravitated to the same place, and for a few moments there was no fidgeting, no "he's taking all the covers!" or "she's elbowing me!", no complaints about the spot they ended up with... just hand holding. I could feel all three of my favorite peoples skin at once. These are the small victories of motherhood, of life really. Connection. Touch. Love.

After the television turned off my girl asked me to snuggle her to sleep. Normally we try to give them time to wind down and hope they fall asleep on their own at this point. But they still ask often for someone to stay upstairs, or for snuggles. I said yes and her eyes danced. We snuggled together side by side in her flannel clad twin bed, flanked by countless stuffed animals. I looked across the room and caught my little guy's eye, in his own bed with his gazillion guys and books. After she fell asleep I migrated to his bed and got under the covers, his legs gravitated towards mine. 

The kids sleep so differently, it never ceases to amaze me how their personalities come out in their sleep patterns. He likes the covers up to his nose, and fidgets to sleep... but then once asleep sleeps soundly. She pushes covers off, lies still to fall asleep, and once asleep she never stops moving...

With his little body fidgeting next to mine I gazed up at the ceiling and started wondering about how many hours my husband and I have spent waiting for children to fall asleep. A lifetime. Two lifetimes. The thought and feel of my son as a tiny baby nursing to sleep came over me, and my body could feel his tininess. He would move non stop while nursing, and then all of a sudden his body would relax and sleep would overcome him. I'd use my index finger to break the latch, and a dribble of milk would decorate the side of his open mouth and cheek before it fell onto the sheets. The sheets always smelled of breast milk... 

Our children have never been "good" sleepers. My little guy spent the first year of his life being nursed and rocked to sleep... he spent only a handful of nights in his crib. My girl... oh my goodness. If we thought our son was a poor sleeper, we were so unprepared for her. She spent even less time in her crib than he did. We would rock, sway, bounce, sing, swaddle, anything to just get her to settle in for the night. There was a period of time when we literally walked her to sleep. She'd be in one of our arms, and we would pace the room, or the tiny apartment we were living in, until we could ease her into a bed - hers or ours - and then we'd cross our fingers for an hour of alone time before her next waking. 

I remember many nights, even ones not that long ago, where I felt trapped beneath a child, unable to move without waking someone. That feeling of going out of your own skin because you simply want time to yourself. During those moments of feeling suffocated, I wish I knew that it was okay to feel that. I wish I reminded myself that for every time I felt that way next to my child, my body tensing up when they moved and my voice stuck in my throat wanting to scream, there were ten others that I was able to sink in and enjoy the snuggles and cuddles and love on them. I wish I knew back then that those feelings are okay to have. To ride them out. That as a mother you're allowed to be human.

All I heard back then was how much I should enjoy every moment of motherhood. Every snuggle, every sleepless night, that I would miss them one day. Here's the thing, I miss their tininess. But I don't miss the time we spent trying to get them to sleep. At all. Relationships morph and change, and accepting them as they are is what makes magic. I still have closeness with my babies, it just looks a bit different since they are too big for me to carry in my arms for an hour as they fall asleep. 

But in the same light, I don't regret those times. Even the ones where I was jumping out of my skin. They're all part of our journey. And they're all okay. 

Last night I snuck back into my own room before he fell asleep all the way. It was late, and he has a way of ooching my rear end out of his bed. From the next room over I could hear him tossing and turning, and then all of a sudden there was silence, laced with breath...

7 comments:

  1. My daughter has never been a "good sleeper" either. It's why she spent so much of her first three years in our bed. For me, the least common denominator was sleep for all three of us, no matter how or where it happened. And then over time things got better, primarily with her moving into her own bed space. But now? She still prefers one of us upstairs while she falls asleep (which, thankfully, doesn't take long most nights) and wants a "re-tuck" if she gets up to use the bathroom ... which she still does, every single night sometime between 12-2am and has for the past 4+ years. I'll be honest: I just wish she would sleep the whole damn night and not wake up. Just ONCE even. There, I said it. But also? I know that soon enough she'll shut the door early in the night and put herself asleep, not wanting anything to do with me. So I'll take those kisses that come with the re-tucks. I really get this one, mama.

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  2. This is so beautiful. All I was told was to appreciate it, too, and while I tried, that always felt like pressure. And yet I'd still take most of those moments back, almost every single one of them. xox

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  3. Yes. Oh, yes. How many hours? My daughter was a perfect sleeper until she turned three. She's spent almost every night since in our room. That feeling of crawling out of your skin...It got to the point with Mia that neither of us were going to sleep until around 11:00 because she would cry if I tried to leave, no matter how close to sleep she was. I gave up. I wanted my nights back, so I made her a bed on our floor and that's where she sleeps most nights. I'm hoping she'll decide on her own at some point that she's ready to be in her own bed, but knowing her it could be high school before that time comes. ;) Love this writing, Corinne.
    ~Lara

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  4. This is beautiful. Two of my children are poor sleepers, I endlessly paced, bounced, and nursed them to sleep. I worked hard for an hour of peace to start the work all over again. A moment in mothering that seems like it will last forever. My oldest now sleeps and eventually the baby will too. :)

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  5. so lovely Corinne! I identify with so much of this! There are times that I love walking my babies to sleep and other times where I feel like my 6mo old is 50lbs, not 14lbs, the tension in my neck growing, my legs becoming heavier with every step. Fo three hours this morning I felt as though I was holding my breath trying to keep them both asleep even though I was terribly uncomfortable. And yet, there are such sweet tender moments that I feel I'll burst from the sheer joy of it all, a happiness deeper than anything else I've ever experienced. Like you said, it's all part of the journey. ~Sarah H.

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