Her bladder rouses her to a state of unrest, but can’t seem to direct her to the bathroom. She is neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Many times she stumbles back to my room, burrows under the blankets between me and my husband.
The dog does not like this arrangement and whimpers for a small spot next to momma.
I thought by the time my youngest was eleven, we would not be sharing a bed anymore, that the days of restless nights and groggy mornings would be a thing of the past. But she is still in need of something, and I am not ready to make her search for it on her own.
It is hard to go back to sleep. My body struggles to find a comfortable spot on the edge, while the rest of the room rises and falls in unison. I am my father’s daughter, creating lists and itineraries for the next day in my head. But like my mother, I am second guessing every decision I made earlier, wondering which mistakes most negatively impacted my children.
The midnight hours are the hardest. There is nothing to distract me from myself. I worry about my children. I also dwell on the lives of others, filling my heart with grief and fear for all the loved ones battling illnesses, relationship woes and unstable futures. And then without warning, I am reminded of some article or news report highlighting yet another cruel injustice in the world, another unexpected tragedy or unexplainable horrific event. I am fearful that this generation, and the next, will continue to struggle to find peace and harmony in their differences.
Inevitably I am brought back to the moment when my daughter’s arm reaches out for me, rippling the stillness. The slight movement causes my husband to turn over and the dog to sigh. There is comfort in knowing my other daughter is safely slumbering in her room. There is comfort in knowing that those I love are slumbering under the same starry sky, blanketed in the same grace and beauty. It is not hard to understand why my mother cherished breastfeeding and a family bed, or why she insisted on family dinners and game nights. She wanted to savor each of us for as long as possible. And like my father, I have an overwhelming need to protect. I have a need to lie in the stillness and be thankful.
Suddenly the bed does not feel too small.