Thankful Anyway Thursday
Yes, it’s Friday. Which is appropriate given the couple of weeks I’ve had. Actually, I tried to post this last week but didn’t make it. Lots of not making it around here lately. Well, not making it on time, anyway.
Early last week, I noticed that I was feeling much more fragile than usual. Fairly minor frustrations were reducing me to tears. And most noticeable, it seemed impossible to keep up with much of anything. I would wake up in the morning with a modest mental list of things I wanted to accomplish, but by the end of the day I had managed to do exactly none of them.
And then I realized. I haven’t been sleeping! Well, not with any regularity.
Now, this is hardly a revelation–Anna has never been much of a nighttime sleeper, even as she approaches her fifth birthday. But over the past few months, things gradually started to improve. As often as not, I would be awakened at 6 or 7 in the morning by Anna crawling into bed with me after having slept through the night. Or she would crawl in with me in the middle of the night, snuggle up against me, and go back to sleep until morning.
So the fog began to lift. I was actually able to get through the day without resorting to caffeine or an emergency nap. My brain felt a little sharper and I was more capable of getting things done both for myself and for the kids. And while I wouldn’t describe myself as either super-productive or well-rested, the tide turned.
And then, just as gradually, it turned back. Anna started waking earlier, and more frequently. We’ve had lots of nights where she is literally restless for hours, climbing on me (or, thankfully, her dad) but not able to resettle. And before I even realized it, I was back in sleep-deprived survival mode.
I’m tired and often short-tempered. I am having a hard time accomplishing what I need to do. I am not being the mother, friend, or employee that I would like to be.
But I’m thankful anyway.
I’m thankful to be part of a community where responsive nighttime parenting is the norm, so I can get compassionate and appreciative support for the challenges of my little waker.
I’m thankful that Anna is growing and learning and her little brain is full of so much stimulation that she just can’t slow it down, even to sleep.
I’m thankful that I have a kind and supportive partner who always has my back.
I’m thankful for those moments when I have the self-possession to surrender to our time in the wee hours rather than resenting it.
But most of all, I’m thankful for Anna. For passionate, high-tempered, exuberant Anna. For the way she crawls into bed with me, curls into my arms, and sighs, “Mama….” like she is in the best and happiest spot in the world. It is so clear to me that these particular challenges are just part of being the mama of this spirited little person. And I wouldn’t trade anything–even the hours of peaceful uninterrupted sleep that I dream of–for that.
From a favorite poem, by Vilma McClure, in The Tao of Motherhood. It’s about infants, but I think it applies equally well to children of all ages.
Who, then, is the doer?
Is it the infant, who brings the mother through the veil of self-concern into limitlessness?
Is it the mother, who chooses to hold sacred her infant’s needs and surrender herself?
Or is it the One, which weaves them both through a spiraling path to wholeness?
Sweet dreams, everyone!