On Sunday night, I settled into bed later than usual. I’m reading a fantastic book which always keeps me up past a reasonable hour. At any rate, I’d finally settled and was soundly asleep when I was jolted awake because of a few cries from the room across the hall.
My youngest son X was stirring in his sleep. I’m a light sleeper and it doesn’t take much to wake me. He called out a few times, but I stayed put, listening, hoping that he go back to sleep. I rarely jump when they call at night. I prefer to leave them for a bit to see if they can settle back in on their own.
Things got quiet for a bit, but before long he was really crying. I sighed a deep sigh, stepped out of bed, and crossed the hall only to discover that the poor little fella had a full diaper. I whisked him up, shushed him with some motherly comfort and promptly freshened him up. We had a quick, quiet cuddle and I settled him back into his crib. He protested loudly of course, but it wasn’t long before he slept peacefully again.
I, however, was now bright-eyed and completely awake. At 1:00 in the morning. I get up at 5:00 to go to work. I was irritated.
As I lay in bed, tossing and turning, I reached an important realization and understanding about myself as a mother.
In previous posts I’ve discussed how distracted I am by all the roles in my life
. Like most of you, I service multiple competing priorities, each vying intensely for thinking space and my attention. I’m okay with this, but I’m also working on ways to better manage and tame them
I know that I am not the most present mother, but I do consciously stop myself from wishing their life away. I refuse to wish him out of diapers.I think this quality is important too, just as important as focusing on being present. As I write this, I realize that some would argue that this is being present. Maybe.
As I lay in bed last night struggling to rest easy once again, I could feel the irritation building. But I snuffed it out quickly and reminded myself that this time of nighttime interruptions, diaper changes, cuddles and comfort would pass all too quickly and he would grow up. And I would most certainly miss it.
I have this perspective the second time around. I learned my lesson the first time when I spent lots of time thinking about a time when it would be easier, and not holding onto the joy of now. It’s also clearer with my second because I see him less at this age than I did my first. With my oldest son I went back to work three days a week when he was a year. I had extra days with him, to enjoy him and be part of his growing and learning.
With my second, I’m back to work five days a week. I hardly get to see him, some nights only for an hour. That hour is often so busy and full with dinner prep, baths, and bedtime wind down that there is often hardly a moment to breathe and really take him in. He changes so much in the five days we are apart that I’m also shocked by the time the weekend comes. It’s a double-edged sword. Because I don’t see him, the changes are stark and more noticeable. That can be interesting and fun. But it’s bittersweet, because I feel I’m missing this amazing part of his life. He’s becoming his own person, and each day his personality flourishes and changes. And of course, that breaks my heart. It’s a constant push-pull, the life of a working mother. I’m never 100% focused on anything, even the things that should matter the most.
So last night, as I lay in bed tired, but wide-awake I reminded myself: Don’t rush the moments, because in the blink of an eye he will change. The struggles and irritations and sleepless nights? They are hard. But they come with so many more breathtaking and precious moments worth holding on to and savoring.