The night starts innocently enough. A decent hour. Clean teeth. Gentle yoga by the open door. We climb under the covers, limbs slipping into place, tired muscles settling before we close our eyes. But soon she is stirring, searching for me. I pull her to me, nurse her and finally try to slip away again. Some nights I haven't even fallen asleep when another small body sneaks into the bed. Some nights I roll over mid-dream to lay my hand on a back or foot, one that wasn't there an hour before. Some nights the baby and I spend the small hours of the morning rolling around the periphery of sleep but never fully making our way in. Some nights sleep is more elusive than the night itself.
The morning is wrapped in brown paper. New but familiar. The scramble for socks. Clean teeth. Food wiped from budded cheeks. We are out the door, the morning air on our faces. Or some days there are tears and jagged words before we've even gotten dressed. By the afternoon sleep has dragged me to the couch where I become but a thing to climb, a pair of breasts to bat, a sluggish, mother-like object. Some days seem to mock me with their absurdity.
I know in my bones that this won't always be the way of things. There will come a day when I will roll over only to find the cool surface of the bedsheets, my husband's quiet breathe. There will come a Saturday morning when we wade in sleep for hours, just the two of us. And, sadly, there will come a day when we will ache to be wanted in the way we are now. There will come a day when we won't be needed much at all.
I find it funny that I used to dream of being needed like this. Ten years ago when I cared for other people's children I wanted so desperately to feel the swathing love of motherhood, to be a little person's sun and moon. It always looked so luxurious, the way they would call for mama, the way they reached for her. I couldn't imagine that that kind of tenderness would come to feel suffocating. I couldn't imagine that I would one day want to peel love from my skin like wet cloth. I didn't know something so sweet could drown me.
Lately I am running out of silver linings. They are there, for sure, but be it lack of sleep or general mama burnout I am not finding them. So for now I am putting out a wish that tonight's sleep will be regenerative and the morning will find me with more to give. As I know quite well, a little bit of hope can go a long way.