Penmanship

“Look, I did a really good 6.”

“That is a really good six. Good job, buddy.”

He looks over at my side.

“Your numbers are really good too.”

writing-numbers

I’ve been really sick the last three days and have barely ventured out of my bedroom. Yesterday, Connor asked me if I would put him to bed, and, in a moment of maternal optimism, I agreed. And then bedtime came around and it was clear that was not a good idea. When I told him Daddy would have to put him to bed instead, he cried and cried.

Funny how these things—when Mom has been a bit MIA and you’re catching the same bug and will be throwing up by morning—can seem like the end of the world.

It took a while to get him to calm down, but he enthusiastically agreed to my suggestion that we sit together while Daddy put Ethan to bed. He brought his new erasable mat so he could do some writing practice and generously agreed to let me do some of them.

It was nice. Better than bedtime stories, even.

And apparently I’m good at writing inside the lines.

iPPP button

 

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

A Valentine for Ethan

Dear Ethan,with-mom-4-months

I held you close tonight after feeding you, your head resting on my shoulder as you slept. You snored, as you often do when you settle back into sleep, and it’s in these night moments that I’m aware of how short a time you’ll be this small.

When you wake in the wee hours of the morning, or when day breaks and I peel myself from the bed, I wonder why it is that babies don’t sleep as much as their parents would like. But during that first wake-up, often before I’ve gone to sleep and when it’s quiet and dark and still, I cherish the moments I get to spend with your small, sleepy form.

Warm sometimes and cool others, your cheek is soft against mine as you lean against me while I try to coax a late-night burp. You tuck into me, your head to my neck, and I feel your soft breath. Your head smells like apricot baby oil and I inhale deeply.

I don’t want to put you down, in those moments when you once again feel part of me, but of course I must. You melt onto my shoulder, but only for a time, and then you need to be left to sleep in your bed.

So instead I lie and listen to the sounds of you. The snores and the sighs and the soft breathing.

And I breathe with you, because whether you are physically with me or not you are part of me and always will be.

Sleep, my babe, and I will see you when next you wake.

Love,
Mama

 

***

I was going to repost my valentine to Rich and Connor this year and then I realized that Ethan wasn’t in it. I thought about doing a second volume to incorporate him, but then when I was putting him to bed last night this appeared.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Bartering Sleep


Moms complain about not getting enough sleep. It’s just what we do. I don’t know even one mother who isn’t tired at least some of the time – either tired from months (or years) of sleep deprivation, tired from trying to keep up with her kids and their energy, or just plain tired of not having more than a few minutes to herself here and there.

It’s that last one that fuels the rest of it.

asleep in the car seat

Duh, mom. When you’re tired, sleep.

The someecards collection is full of pithy quips for moms about how solo grocery shopping counts as “me” time and peace and quiet is only found in the bathroom (and often not even then). So we take those moments when we find them, even if we have to lock the door to keep our beloved children out to do it, and continue our pursuit of time to ourselves by sacrificing that most cherished of commodities: sleep.

I know some parents who can function on very little sleep and so can quite handily go to bed late and still be fine when their offspring disturb their slumber. I’m not one of them. I need sleep – the undisturbed, drool-on-the-pillow-and-wake-up-when-I’m-damn-well-ready kind. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I haven’t had enough of that in the last four-and-a-half years.

Unfortunately, this need for quality sleep is at odds with another one of my primary requirements for sanity, which is to have a decent amount of time to myself. And so, like so many other mothers, I sacrifice one for the other.

sleeping baby with owl hat

Even little night owls need to sleep sometimes.

Even now, with a three-month-old baby I have to get up with at least two or three times a night, I often choose me time after bedtime. Before Ethan was born — before I was pregnant with him, even — I was the type who called it a day somewhere around 10 p.m. My routine usually included a good stretch of time reading in bed but, even so, if I saw the clock click over to 11 it was a rare thing indeed. Now, despite having both a preschooler who gets up early and the aforementioned night-waking infant, I have to force myself to go to bed at 11 or live with the regret in the morning.

And it’s still not enough. It’s not enough sleep and it’s not enough time to do my own thing. But I’m not alone in my pursuit of the elusive balance.

Judging only by the number of pithy, sleep-related jokes I see shared on Facebook I would know I’m not the only mom making the choice to stay up past my bedtime. But I’ve also had this conversation with several friends, all of whom bemoan the fact that they need more sleep than they get while admitting they stay up too late just to have the time to themselves.

Sure, sleep begets sanity, but what good is sanity if you’re not awake to appreciate it?

 

In the Softening Light

We lie in bed, cozy under the covers, as the light outside slowly fades. We read stories, talking about the pictures and why things work the way they do.

landscape-at-dusk

Credit: Roads Less Traveled Photography, Flickr

“How does that move?”

“Where did they get the wheels from?”

“What makes it go?”

After each question, a pause, and an “oh.” He’s listening.

He rubs his eyes, then my wrist. Still his safe spot.

“I want to hug you for finding my lizard,” he says, and he does.

“I love you, mummy.” His voice is soft and small. “You’re the best.”

When the stories are done and the lights are out, he is quiet but my mind is not. I think about what I did today.

Is that one little thing important?

Five years from now, will what I spent my time doing make a difference?

50 years from now, will it even matter that I was there?

These are the things I think about in the softening light.

 

***

My family has been in town and Connor has been sleeping in our bed for the last week. While it’s not something we would choose on a permanent basis (though more often than not someone ends up in his bed with him for at least part of the night) I do enjoy it. I love the little hand that reaches for mine in the night, his gentle heat and that barely-there-but-still-audible breath punctuated by small sighs. 

It makes me think a lot about what’s important.

Missing Grandma

Big, spontaneous tears at bedtime tonight.

“I miss Grandma,” he said, his voice in the darkness succumbing to a wail.

Oh dear, I thought.

He was tired—by design, since tonight is volleyball night for my husband and I’m tired and didn’t want an extended bedtime again (ha ha) so we skipped his nap—so I figured it was a small sigh and he’d succumb to sleep.

“Oh buddy, I know you miss Grandma. She’s coming to visit soon though.”

Sniff, sniff, wail.

“We’re going to go and visit Grandma and Grandpa soon too!”

Nothing.

“And you know what? They’re getting ready to move here!”

“They should live right next to us.”

“Maybe they will.” (Mental note: Ask the neighbours if they would like to sell their house.)

“We never should have left our house.”

“…What do you mean? Which house?”

“Our old house.”

Oh dear.

This child sure knows how to break his mama’s heart. He’s probably been thinking about Grandma and all the fun things they do and all the things he wants to show her. I imagine his little brain thinking about this but not saying anything until now, when it comes out in the quiet of the night. Whether it’s a tired lament or not, I know he misses them. I knew he would. I dreaded it.

I tried to jolly him along – “They’re coming soon!” and “You know what?! Grandpa is a really good skater and he would love to go skating with you! You can show him your new skates and what you’ve learned so far!” – but no dice.

He was quiet, and at first I thought it was working. I could no longer hear his sniffles—only mine—but then it started again.

“WAHHH!!”

The mommy-cheering-up tactics weren’t working, so we called Grandma. They talked and made a list of all the things they’re going to do when she comes to visit and, for now at least, it’s all better. Until the next bedtime, and the next, and the next. Until they’ve moved close enough to make him happy.

I really need to go and sweet-talk the neighbours.

boy and his Grandma