In my pre-offspring days, I luxuriated in sleep. Weekends were spent flopping around in bed like a happy walrus. I wore my pajamas like combat fatigues; twenty-four hours a day and in every season. It was amazing. Imagine waking up refreshed, instead of feeling as though you slept on rocks (which is how I currently sleep). I’m only thirty-eight, but my joints hate me.
However, when you have kids, sleep is elusive and sometimes fraught with worry. My post-baby brain has woken me countless times, snapping me from slumber like a crack of lightning. “Did I lock the back door?” my frantic lizard mind whispers, “is it too cold in Andy’s room? Did I leave my keys in the washing machine again?” Never-ending questions bubble up during the deepest parts of the night, ensuring I’m forever fatigued. And yet, I owe my nervous mind a debt of gratitude for the terror and relief it put me through one night last week.
I woke with a start at four am, utterly confused. What year was it? What country was I in? Where were my keys? Out of pure habit, I rolled over and checked the video monitor for Andy’s room, and, as my vision cleared, an icicle of pure fear stabbed my heart: Andy wasn’t in his bed. All synapses fired at once as I leapt up and raced to my son’s room, terror and adrenaline surging through me. I’ve never gone from zero to one hundred so fast in my life; I was fire and brimstone, Mother Almighty as I burst open the door to Andy’s room. In the dim glow of his nightlight, my heart pounded like a war drum as I stood, every limb quaking. His bed empty, his sheets tossed aside, I was about to raise holy hellfire when a tiny bundle caught my eye. My little boy was curled up fast asleep on the hard floor and out of range of the camera. Relief washed over me so fast my legs trembled. My baby, my son. I’d been holding my breath and started gasping for air, struggling to keep silent, lest I wake my tumble-prone child. Slowly, I bent down and scooped Andy off the cold floor, and as I placed him back in bed, he opened his bleary eyes and mumbled “night night” before fading back to black. “Sleeping like a baby”, indeed!
I closed his door behind me and stumbled to my room. Jeremy, my husband, was snoozing peacefully, unaware that his wife had just been through the seven circles of hell. He wasn’t blessed with my quick-trigger anxiety riddled brain. Sigh. It’s no wonder my chin hair is going grey; my kids scare me half to death on a weekly basis. I will say this, though: being terrified is exhausting. That night I collapsed into bed and slept six hours straight. I haven’t done that in years!