When I was a child, I thought grown-ups didn’t really sleep – that they just rested in bed with their eyes closed. My evidence was the fact that when I approached my mom in the middle of the night, all I had to do was whisper her name and she’d be instantly, groggily awake.
I understand now that a special superpower bestowed on parents allows a child’s voice to penetrate the walls of slumber. I sleep through thunderstorms, howling wind, televised sports events that Hot Firefighter Husband CAN’T MISS, and my dog’s perennial snoring. But my kid standing next to my bed saying, “Mama?” It’s like an espresso.
I sleep well, but sometimes I envy the intense, paralytic nature of my children’s nightly sleep.
The Tyrant drifts off each night with Teddy covering her face, covers kicked off and her Pillow Pet Dreamlight casting shadows on the ceiling. In the morning when she wakes, she comes to me still half in her dreams, and wraps her little legs around me like she’s trying to climb inside. Her hair is a rat’s nest, covering her face in a shiny knotted veil, and she clasps her fingers at the back of my neck.
The Pterodactyl falls asleep each night about 45 minutes after taking his
melatonin nighttime vitamin, just closes his eyes and is lost to me wherever he happens to be. After I carry him to bed – 70 lbs! That’s why I have to work out! – he rolls on his belly and buries his head into Fuzzy Pillow. I put my face next to his and push back his hair, and kiss his sweet lips, knowing that in this relaxed state, my troubled little boy is utterly relaxed and at peace. The next morning he’ll find me at my computer and wait for me to envelop him with kisses and hugs, his own private reassurance that he will make it through this day.
The Diva, now nearly 11, finds it more difficult to sleep because she’s growing up. In the middle of the night, though, I can still find her sprawled, arms flung out, eyes partly open, dreaming of becoming a chef or a teacher or the next American Idol. When she awakes, she comes to me in search of reassurance that she’s still my baby, but already thinking ahead to the day’s activities. Sometimes she lets me pull her into my lap, but more and more often she pulls away after a quick morning kiss, in search of her Kindle or the iPad, flinging off sleep as though it was an itchy shawl, moving ahead with the day and toward a time when sleep will be just an inconvenient connection between the glory of her days. Even then, I’ll hear her calling me.