on sleep

i hold you in my arms, your face nuzzled into my breast, your hands seeking an anchor on my arms, my lips, my hair.

your eyes are closed, your mouth still working, still seeking milk.

i stand, working my hardest to stay silent, and tiptoe to your bedroom. i look down at you for a few moments, press kisses to your sweat-damp hair, still golden and silk-soft.

my heart is torn. i long for sleep–deep, undisturbed sleep, but my arms ache for you when you are not held close to my side, your arms and mouth seeking comfort throughout the night.

i kiss your lipscheekshands, then lay you down, covering your just-moving limbs with your blanket, hesitating by your side.

maybe i’ll keep you with me.

just for tonight.

instead, i slip away to my own bed, both relieved and pained to be apart from you.

relief and pain–a mother’s constant companions.

i will never stop being amazed by the difference sleep can make. the difference between collected and irritable–capable of loving through tantrums and stubbornness, or ready to snap at the slightest provocation.

i have not slept in well over a year. each night, i wake, after only 3-4 hours of sleep.

sometimes to give you milk.

sometimes to wait for your cry–a cry that, two nights, has never come.

this loss of sleep fascinates me. how a single hour can be the tipping point to either all-day frustration, or all-day serenity.

so much of our kindness, our patience, our drive is predicated upon those nightly hours.

will we wake content, refreshed? or will we wake with anger ready to claw at our throats, burn in our hearts, explode from our lips?

someday, my love, i hope you will learn to sleep. i hope you will learn to soothe yourself from waking during the night, in the afternoons when you nap. i hope you and i will be able to get a good night’s rest, undisturbed by hungry cries, or angry peals.

someday, love, i hope we will wake refreshed, recharged, and ready to tackle the day ahead.

until then, i will linger at your bedside, debate whether it will ruin your routine too much to keep you with me, tucked into my side, my lips resting against your hair–
asleep.

just for tonight.

on independence

i glance over to see a tiny, diaper-clad bottom making its way into the next room.

his room, where toys abound, and mama is not present.

his room, where his bed sits, his clothes lay folded, his toys are in baskets, awaiting play.

his room, where nothing of mama’s is present, where mama’s mark is seen only in the organization of toys and clothes.

independence.

his little hands no longer grab for me at every moment.

his little legs are eager to explore on their own, zoom around the house, instead of tucking securely around my hip.

his little eyes glance around the room, help him make his own decisions regarding exploration, regarding toys to grab, places to see.

his independence is at once wonderful and piercing–something to cherish and something to hold at arm’s length.

a mama’s liberation–a mama’s heartache.

his little legs

on change

change is hard.

good change feels just as hard as bad–perhaps even moreso; rather than something to shake my fist at, i feel myself feeling bitter and feeling nostalgic simultaneously–a confusing mass of emotions that is far more challenging to work through than straight frustration or pure anger.

life with a baby is an unending cycle of change. i think i have this stage mastered–and then we are careening off to another new skill, another discovered source of independence, and i am just as confused as ever, thrust into the responsibility of fostering and encouraging his newfound freedom.

these changes are hard, yes.

but they are also beautiful.

motherhood, to me, is a long series of pain and unbearable beauty–frustration and transcendent joy.

the latest change, of course, is this: sleeping apart. no more naps spent cuddled up to his tiny body. no more nursing to sleep at night, his warm, fuzzy head tucked against my mouth and nose, the smell of his little body and the milk that sustains it prompting a smile on my face as we drift off to sleep together.

instead, i lay him in his bed, his face peaceful and so sweet, and retreat to my own bed. the warmth of his father a small comfort–but not quite the same as this little boy whose body grew and developed within my womb.

i feel at once relief from a lack of sleep, but painful longing for the adoration and comfort fostered by that connection, night after night, nap time after nap time.
i feel at once freedom to wrap myself in my husband’s arms and an ache for the little boy who was so content to sleep between us, arms spread wide to touch both mama’s breast and daddy’s arm.

these changes are beautiful; they are indications of progress, of moving forward, of finally accepting the requirement to adapt to a baby’s needs, regardless of what you plan or so desperately want to do.

they force us to grow up, to be better, to be stronger–
like muscles, tearing and healing, in order to become more powerful, less susceptible to damage.

change is painful, change is bitter–
change is transformative.

on responsibilities

responsibility is a funny thing.

it is touted as a one-size-fits-all, simple solution to your woes.

“learn some responsibility. practice some responsibility.”

what happens, though, when your responsibilities clash and collide, forcing a choice between one and the other. it is a complex idea, constantly oversimplified for the sake of pushing people to change, pushing people to act.

but as people, we have hundreds (perhaps thousands) of responsibilities all shouting loudly, all vying for our attention, all desperately trying to overtake one another to be the biggest, the best–the winner.

responsibilities as a wife: cook, clean, support, encourage, love, respect, build up, care for.
responsibilities as a mother: cook, clean, support, encourage, love, care for, adore, teach, raise, imbue with kindness, demonstrate character, express affection, demonstrate security.
responsibilities as a woman: fight to be heard, work to be seen as equal, live a life worthy of respect and power.
responsibilities as a christian: spend time in prayer, in meditation, in reading God’s Word, demonstrating His love and lovingkindness.
responsibilities as a child and sister: support, love, listen, help, laugh, cry.

i make plans on a whiteboard, checking each day’s items off with gusto, as though these little checkmarks will define me, will shape the rest of my life, will determine whether or not i am a good wifemotherwomanchristiandaughtersister. but then there are millions of tiny decisions during the day that can’t be put on a whiteboard, can’t be checked off of a list.

making sure eli asher knows he is cherished and cared for. making sure mario knows he is supported and respected. making sure tenika knows she is heard and understood.

a million tiny decisions, each of them far more important than whether or not my articles get turned in immediately after being assigned, or whether or not my car is spotless, or whether or not there are some dishes in the sink.

responsibility is a beautiful thing.

but it takes time, effort, and awareness to really tackle the responsibilities that need the most attention, and the most care.