Nights Belong to Mamas
Nighttime belongs to mamas. Those quiet, dark hours of solitude become familiar to us, from the first hours after a baby is laid in our arms, but not limited to those early days. Each new season of motherhood is welcomed by the chime of a night-time clock. We grow accustomed to the soft gleam of a nightlight, the velvety shadows in a familiar room, the pinpoints of starlight through a crack in the curtains, while we meet the needs of our growing children.
Frustration tinges those sleepless nights at first: Babies do cause a lot of them. There are night feedings and mixed up schedules, and sometimes a full night of sleep seems like a distant memory. We feel certain that we are far too familiar with those night hours. We wish we were less familiar. We fantasize about the nights of uninterrupted sleep we once enjoyed. But sooner or later, most babies learn to sleep a little better and then we take possession of our nights with new appreciation.
We stay up too late, savoring those quiet hours when we can feel like ourselves again. We cling to the hours when the children are sleeping, because they give us a moment to remember what we liked before our days were taken up with these sweet grubby faces that demand kisses in one minute and life-saving the next.
And all too often, as soon as we’ve finally gotten ourselves off to bed, a child wakes. It never really ends, the scene just changes. Instead of rocking a new baby, we’re jogging upstairs to comfort a bad dream, tuck blankets around cold shoulders, care for a sick child, or (my favorite) lying awake wondering why nobody has woken up yet. The nights are ours. Just a little piece of an ordinary life.
The older the kids get, the more I think sleeping through the night is the real abnormality. Those late night wanderings aren’t unique to us, or something to be fixed, just a part of the timeless, precious dance of motherhood.