Each night, I look forward to when my son falls asleep. We have a ritual after the traditional bedtime routine. I hold him in my arms as I close the curtains and turn the sound machine on to rain drops as it displays the cow and the moon overhead. Then, I press play on the CD player and softly hum along to lullabies as I reach for a clean receiving blanket. I unfold it to my son’s enjoyment as he snuggles close to my chest. Adjusting the pillows on the chair, my son giggles when he sees his pillow with baby Pooh bear and digs his head further into my shoulder biting on his blanket to muffle his squeals. Then, I turn off the light, sing Baby Mine, and rock him to sleep. Sometimes he sings to me through open-mouthed hums, and other times he blows raspberries and giggles. Eventually, he succumbs to his drowsy lids and nods off to sleep.
It breaks my heart to pull him away from my chest and lay him down in his crib. I kiss his forehead and whisper sweet wishes for my child. In the dim light, I stand over his crib and stare awhile in wonderment at this miraculous gift. When I step away, I hold my breath hoping that he remains asleep while praying for another peaceful night and to be blessed with another day as his mother. In the next breath, I breathe a deep sigh of relief as I silently scream, “Yes! I’m free!”
I’m free to do what? Well, anything I want!
I have been blessed in many ways with this boy. My son is a fairly routine kid. If he goes to bed at a decent hour, I know his resting period gives me about 12 hours before I have to comply to my role as his mother, again. Two of those hours are him awake playing in his crib for one hour in the middle of the night and one hour when he awakes in the morning. If I arrive any sooner than the 12 hours he gives me, I am in for a day full of fits and tantrums. Thus, it gives me 4 hours of uninterrupted time with a potential of 8 hours of sleep!
I count my blessings everyday, and I also know that this gift of time is fleeting.
We had a rough cold and flu season this year. Every month since September my son has been ill. He experienced a reaction to two of his vaccines at separate occasions. After his first Halloween out, he developed a cold with an ear infection that required antibiotics and a nebulizer to prevent re-hospitalization. After Thanksgiving, he was diagnosed with RSV and another ear infection. Once he hurdled the scariest part of the illness, he developed a severe allergic reaction to his antibiotic. In January, a gastrointestinal flu hit our entire home and it took him the full 10 days to stop vomiting. Teething nearly sent us over the edge for the week of Valentine’ s day with the result of five new teeth. After a one week reprieve from the pain, he experienced teething again with one more new tooth.
The time he gives me is limited, and I hoard it as much as I possibly can. At the end of the day, I need my down-time. This time is crucial for me to rejuvenate. I use it to think about my day and what I could do to make each situation I experienced better. I allow my thoughts to flow freely. This helps me to decompress, and it gives me new material to write about. Sometimes, I’m just so exhausted that all I want to do is lay on the couch with my bowl of ice cream and fall asleep to a marathon of my favorite television shows. My family knows that if I don’t get this time to myself, I become psycho-mommy with monstrous eyes and spittle spewing from my gnashing teeth. (That may have been overdramatic, but the possibilities are endless.)
I am mostly discouraged when my daughter enters my room after her bedtime for a much needed mommy-daughter session. Without them, she would have never known to switch career choices that made sense to the person she is today. Then, there is the pause I make to listen to my son over the monitor. Is he going to cry? If I wait, will he fall back to sleep? Is this the hour he plays in his crib? Is he breathing? Did he vomit and is he choking on his bile, again? All of these questions and more leave me to pause until he falls back to sleep. This nightly cycle is the joy of motherhood that interrupts my precious time.
What happens when I go back to work? Will I lose those precious hours due to exhaustion from working and playing mom all day? Or will I be able to push through if the mood to write strikes?
In all reality, this is not a set time that I can rely on to write peacefully. But, somehow, when the mood strikes, I know that I can try… or else just grab a bowl of ice cream and finish my Criminal Minds marathon. God, how I love my psychological thrillers!