15: Sleepless Nights

15: Sleepless Nights

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: For Mom, with Love

Sleepless Nights

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.

~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Mom wasted no time returning my phone call. “Don’t put the baby on eBay,” she urged. “I’ll be over in an hour to give you a break.” She showed up in a few minutes and removed my screaming newborn from my arms. She proceeded to rock her grandchild and sing to him while I went upstairs for a nap.

It was a well-deserved rest. I had gone without a good night’s sleep for the first four weeks of my child’s life. While everyone else in the world counted sheep, I counted down the minutes until the baby’s next feeding. That was when the room would finally be peaceful again. Then, in the early morning hours, I burped, changed, and rocked my baby as the sun rose on a new day.

There were times when my fatigue caused me to be a bit short tempered with my mom — a very silly thing to do when someone is offering you help. “You are not the only new mother who has ever felt stressed and overwhelmed,” she reminded me. “We’ve all been there.”

My mom told me about spending late nights and early mornings in the rocking chair. “There were times when I tried everything to get you to stop fussing. I was at the end of my rope. But those days passed quickly for me. They will for you too.”

I knew she was right. It would pass quickly — too quickly — and then there would be other reasons for staying up all hours of the night: driver’s licenses, proms, dates, etc.

I remember coming home a bit late from a date when I was a teenager. I slid my key in the lock, quietly turned the door handle and closed the door behind me. I tiptoed past the squeaky floorboards in the dining room and headed toward my room. Then, a light flicked on and there sat my mother, waiting for me in the living room.

“Where have you been?” she demanded. “You were supposed to be home at eleven o’clock.”

“It’s only midnight,” I argued. “What difference does an hour make?”

My mom grounded me for arguing with her and for breaking my curfew. She tried to make me understand that she was only angry with me because she was worried. I thought she was mean and unfair. It would take me years to realize otherwise.

There were several other occasions when my mom went without sleep because of me. She tossed and turned when I moved two states away and she undoubtedly paced the halls when I announced that I had withdrawn from college. I kept her awake with the kind of worry that only a mother can feel.

It’s four o’clock on a Wednesday morning and my baby and I are wide awake. He has eaten and has been changed but he will not stop fussing unless I hold him. So together we sway in the rocking chair, his tiny head against my chest and my head drooping from exhaustion.

Years from now, I will be awake for other reasons. He will be late for curfew, driving for the first time, or going away to college. I will wonder where he is and whether or not he is okay. I will long for the late nights and early mornings that we spent together in the rocking chair. Then, when the sun rises and the rest of the world is awake again, I will call my mother. She will understand.

~Melissa Face

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