Twinkle, twinkle, little star

unsplash_523b2af0710a7_1“I just can’t do it,” my sleep-walking daughter mumbles at the side of my bed, “I just can’t find my way.”

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.


8 thoughts on “Twinkle, twinkle, little star

  1. I can relate to that need to savor our children as long as possible. Time just goes too darn fast, and kids are gone too soon. My daughter is a senior in high school and my heart is breaking already. This post was utterly beautiful!

  2. One week a month my sister’s husband is out of town. Their 11 year old, though she misses her dad, looks forward to sleeping with her mom. Like you say, she doesn’t want her to search for what she needs on her own. That’s a beautiful line. One day she won’t want to do it anymore, and that will undoubtedly be harder than when she does. Lovely post!

  3. I have an eight year old that finds her way to me almost every night. It used to be a heavier burden, but the closer she gets to not needing me, the more I need her there.

  4. OH Emily, I think as moms and caregivers many of us feel this way to some degree, we worry, we wonder, we count stars and sheep and do all we can do to “do better than yesterday”.
    Jacob is still in my bed, John is sleeping with Giovanni and while I know that I need to change this arrangement sooner than later, I do love the cuddle of my 5 yr old, even if he was 11, I think I’d cherish those moments.

    thanks for sharing this with us and know you’re not alone as a mom, a friend or a human being here in my world.

  5. This was absolutely beautiful. You really are such a combination of both your parents. Lucky you to have gotten some of your father to balance the insecurities of your mother. I don’t see any of my father in me, and I wish I had gotten an ounce of his confidence. Besides the brilliance of what you wrote the way you write is stunning as well.

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