So, apparently, there was no reality yesterday. I was just living in a dreamworld. And all was butterflies and roses.
Actually . . . there was a butterfly in my house yesterday. Ruthie somehow caught it the day before. Yes. Ruthie. Caught a butterfly. And no one knows how. She just showed up inside with a butterfly in Hannah’s butterfly habitat. Who could know how the three year old was able to capture the elusive butterfly? So, we kept the butterfly all that day, with Ruthie occasionally shaking the stuffing out of the net habitat thingie. That evening we put in a sugar water solution for it, as per the instructions of the well-informed eight-year-old Boy. Then yesterday afternoon, I was informed by my dear husband that at some point during the day our very delicate flower of a third-born pinched four of the butterfly’s legs off. “And the remaining ones are both on the same side of his body,” adds the Man, as if a lopsided butterfly is somehow worse than one who has to drag himself around. The butterfly mysteriously disappeared in the night. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
So, that had absolutely nothing to do with my intended goal of this post. Sometimes my brain just wanders off course, veers off my intended path. Probably not unlike a lopsided butterfly . . .
Anywhooo . . . I went with the “morning after” title because I lived my reality du jour–or is it du semaine, given the goal of this little blog project?–last night. Back when I first entered the wonderful land of Mommyhood, I was under the delusion er impression that the absolute worst mommy mistake one could ever make was to invite one’s offspring to sleep in the marital bed. Don’t do it. Not even once. They’ll never leave. It will ruin your marriage. I don’t even know all the reasons I was given, but it was a huge No-No.
Obviously I went against the grain. The Boy would not, could not sleep next to another person. So, with him it was no problem to maintain that carved-in-stone rule. His first sister, however, would not, could not NOT sleep next to another person. And you know what? Neither can her father. So, out of desperation and inspired by some new-found crunchy imaginary friends, I put Hannah in bed with me. And there she slept. Ever so well. So, we attached her annex and away we went. Both of us sleeping better than we had since several months before she was born. That’s where Ruth started, in the annex, the crib attached to our bed, but in time we discovered she, like her brother, preferred to sleep alone. Lo and behold! our babies appeared to have their own little personalities and preferences. Go figure.
Fast forward a couple of years. Everyone has settled into sleeping in his or her own bed. They each go to sleep at night rather quickly and easily. Except the used-to-be-a-perfect-sleeper Boy. Who has fits of insomnia at times. Not unlike his father. Go figure. The mini-me Boy can experience the same sorts of sleep disturbances as his predecessor. Even though he’s just a kid. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that insomnia can’t impact you until you’ve hit a certain age. I guess that age is somewhere around the point at which it will no longer impact your parents. Not until the age of “you’re on your own, kid.” But I digress . . .
Mostly everyone sleeps great, right through the night, right in their own beds, despite all the dire warnings of eight years ago. But sometimes, one or the other will have their sleep disturbed by stresses of developmental spurt, or changes in routine or life’s circumstances, or for no real apparent reason. Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure these are the sorts of things that inspired pharmaceuticals to invent Ambien. Except, again, these sleep disturbances are only permitted once one has passed the age of “you’re on your own kid.”
And now, 660 words in, I get to my point. Between last night and the night before, every kid in the house (and in the night it felt like surely there must be thirty of ’em in this place) had a sleep disturbance. Vacation, while fun, has certainly exacted a toll on the children’s little psyches. Isaac and Ruth both are suffering some severe sleep deprivation. Isaac’s results in insomnia. Ruthie’s results in random acts of violence against her siblings, but that’s a-whole-nother post.
I know it involved two nights, but it’s all one big blur. Maybe it was three nights. Yes. Three. Mostly as a result of getting back on track after vacation. One night, when it was super, crazy hot, Isaac and Hannah both went to sleep in our bed because I didn’t have the heart to make them try to fall asleep in their hot attic bedroom when my bedroom has an A/C unit. So, when Ry and I were ready to go to bed, Ry picked up and carried upstairs both sleeping children. (He really must stop doing this with the 80-lb 8-year-old, however.) About an hour later one of them returned; we all fell back to sleep.
This is when the last three nights all look very similar. At some point, I wake up and ask Ry to return the sleeping kid back to his/her own bed. Mostly because Ruthie is in the habit of coming in sometime shortly after the sun rises, thinking it’s actually morning and not 5:30, and if she’s not disturbed, she’ll lie next to me and sleep another hour or two (or even three, but that only happens on Sundays, when I need to be in the pulpit at 8:30).
So, with Ruthie’s habit ever in mind, I kick the older two out at some point. With our new King-sized bed, I barely notice they’re there, I can sleep and sleep. But for the last three nights, it seemed that a half-hour after we’d return one to his own bed, another would arrive. And again, put her back, then the third one comes, and so on until, I’m pretty sure, the whole neighborhood has shown up in our bed at some point during the last three nights.
Crazy? Yes. Tiring? A little. But you know what else it is? Sweet. And warm. And cozy. And butterflies (with all appendages accounted for) and roses. Because it’s real. Because sometimes people have trouble sleeping. Sometimes our nightmares wake us up, sometimes the stresses of our lives keep us up. But how wonderful to grow up in a world, and continue living in a world, where when the things that go bump! in the night can be soothed away with compassion and love and warm–though groggy–words of comfort and snuggles abounding. Don’t we all want to live in that world? I do.
And some day, very, very soon, my children will stop crawling into bed with me at night. And, if every older friend I’ve ever had can be trusted, I will miss it. I will miss the late-night snuggles. I will miss the Super Mom ability to soothe all ills. In the meantime, I hold my babies close and pray that they will someday find someone else who will not mind a little sleep disruption for the sake of offering them comfort as their much bigger, much scarier adult-sized boogie men crawl out of the shadows in the night.
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