I’ve been going to bed early. Daylight Savings Time has ended, and so has my youngest child’s easy rhythm. We’ve been fighting bedtime, waking up before 6, and slumping into large, tired, soupy messes after school.
We’re all tired. In fact, my husband keeps saying things like, “I just don’t understand why I’m so tired.” To which my snarky inside voice responds, Helllllooooooo, Daylight Savings Torture?!? The rest of me simply says, “It’s the clock change,” to the top of his head while he’s scrolling along on the smart phone.
Usually it’s me that’s scrolling and pecking along, but these days I’m off the devices more than on them, so snarky Tanya gets to put that in her blog today. Top of husband’s head joke. Check!
Last night my son crawled into the big bed at 2:40 am.
Your various reactions: Aw sweet. Aw hell no. Something in between.
I am tired. He is little. We are messy right now. I need my sleep. He needs his sleep.
Equally true: I have seen so many people lose their children to death, that there is no way in the name of all that is holy that I’m going to kick him out of my bed if I don’t have to.
THE FIRST HOUR: Me, gauging it all…long pause…does this feel developmentally like it’s in his best interest? Reading my mind, he chirps out, in baby voice, “Mama. I love you mama. I love you mama.” Husband asks, “Do you want me to take him back to his bed?”
“I love you too.” Smiling. Kissing son on my left. Kissing husband on my right. Kissing restful sleep goodbye.
Son: “Mom, are you wearing pants?”
Me: “Yes, I’m wearing pants.?”
THE SECOND HOUR: Son has helped to manifest a new blog post about starfish. Continues to reposition himself all over all of my body with all of his limbs. First, starfish is on my head. Next, starfish has turned his back against my back, and has thrown top leg AND top arm over my body, securing them into various available crannies. At 20-27 minute intervals, starfish continues, now with his elbow, to incessantly probe for soft, yet secure places to anchor himself.
THE THIRD HOUR: I awaken to snoring. On my left side, as well as my right side. Lodged between Prince Charming and the Starfish, I unsuccessfully attempt to wiggle-disrupt them into repositioning their separate breathing apparatus. I contemplate earplugs–logically stowed in my pillowcase, but they are wedged beneath the starfish, and both my arms are somewhat pinned in the cozy snuggle trap the starfish has induced.
Noticing I have secured a really nice spot…between their two pillows….wait, between MY pillow and the Prince’s pillow, I resign. I contemplate how best to reclaim some pillow and disrupt the snoring. Instead, I fall back to sleep, presumably from sheer exhaustion and a degree of complacent defeat.
THE FOURTH HOUR: My eyes blink open and I reflect on how happy I am to be wedged between these two, who have stopped snoring; blocking elbow.
At some point, I drift back to sleep and slumber soundly enough to miss Prince Charming’s alarm clock and departure for WOTH. (Work outside the house.) Tank full of warmth and mommy-snuggle bliss, the starfish pops out of bed like Aquarian Ninja at 7:30. I find I am in remarkably good spirits and follow in his wee marching and singing wake.
I have birthed a starfish.
And I could gently carry him back to his own sufficiently cozy bed, swinging by the potty on the way. And I could ask Prince Charming to heft the little starfish back up the stairs, too. And I could make rules and a sticker chart and bribe him with any number of things and/or set up a cot on the floor and/or lecture him about the importance of sleep for mommy’s health and vitality and ability to have impulse control in her parenting. I could lecture him about the importance of good rest, for good brains, for good learning and mood.
I could swear and brood and say how nothing is ever easy when you’re raising a starfish, and I do. I did last night, long before he maneuvered on his starfishy little feet into my bed, where he grappled with the most secure way to attach to me–for hours in the dark night, somehow waking refreshed and ready for another day of kindergarten wonder.
Or I can feel so happy, and so lucky that I am starfish worthy.
I am a good place to rest and refill, for a tiny starfish. I am good shelter, good love, and good all around. Even when the water is turbulent. Even though I, too, am sometimes just too damn turbulent.
And some days, I know the starfish can do it. And we do lug him back to his own little rock. And there are days when I feel sad to transplant him back to his own rock, because maybe on those days he’s pretty sure there is not one beneath him. But I can see it.
Somehow, we’ll find the just-right balance of these two forces; holding and pushing. Receiving his grasping limbs, making sure his tank is full, and then pushing him out, into safe waters he can navigate–filled with love, wearing uncertainty, and even so small.
And I know we’re making it up and finding it as we go, and we have to push through; even when I’m the one wearing the uncertainty. I can’t predict the swells he’ll encounter, but I can predict he’ll need to know there is sturdy rock beneath him, and I’m ok being part of his practice squad. His coffee-slurping, pillow-deprived, sleep-fetishizing practice squad.
Photograph: the Starfish in training, at 3 years of age