Friday, January 12, 2007

Sleep? What's that?

A gentle nudge on my leg from my hubby wakes me up. Time to get up, shower, and get ready for work. I get up slowly, carefully untangling myself from the small arms and legs that are draped on me. Blearily, I collect my towel and trudge off to the downstairs bathroom (where the heater is). As I take my clothes off and turn on the shower, I hear a loud thud from upstairs followed by running feet and then a loud combination of wailing and sobbing from the stairwell, "mooooommmmeeeee!!!!!". I sigh. It is 5:55am and Joshua, on cue, is already awake and screaming for me. This is how my weekday starts.

There are variations. Sometimes, he goes straight to the bathroom, clutching at my waist and sobbing uncontrollably, "mommy, *unhunh* *unhunh* please, I want you to stay with me *unhunh* *unhunh*. I don't want you to leave, please sleep with me pa." Sometimes I make it back to the upstairs bathroom where I dress before we do the please-don't-leave-me routine. Sometimes I open the bathroom door to find him sitting quietly in a chair, waiting for me. The routine doesn't last long though, after about 5 minutes, he calms down and starts playing or chattering to me, as if nothing happened. Lately, it struck me --- Joshua seems so grown up already, very independent and not wanting to be babied. But in those moments between sleeping and waking up, when he cries out for me, then I get my baby back. It only lasts five minutes and believe me, in the middle of it, I am wishing that he is still asleep. But a teeny, tiny part of me realizes that this will not happen for much longer. And I think I will miss it.

Faith, thankfully, usually remains blissfully asleep the whole time. This one has a night time routine as opposed to Joshua's early morning one which usually involves talking non-stop even if everybody else is asleep (or almost asleep), trying out different positions (on top of me, head on my stomach, feet propped on the couch, etc.), and eventually prying my eyelids open insisting that I wake up and look at her while she falls asleep. Sometimes, she gets up on my back or she makes me sit up cross-legged on the bed while she puts her head on my lap until she falls asleep. Only then can I carefully move her to the pillow and fall exhausted into bed, only to be woken up at 3 or 4 am by an insistent Faith, wanting to sleep on my lap again.

It's weird to be a mother. I am always torn between complaining about the lack of sleep/lack of privacy/etc and regret that when they grow up, they will not need me as much. Torn between being happy that they are getting independent and feeling a twinge of sadness at yet another sign that they are leaving their babyhood behind.

I wonder how it feels to them, to sleep beside me. They both take possession of my hands, each of them running my fingers all over their face until they fall asleep. They refuse to sleep with their grandparents when they know I am home. I think it's because I am their parent but they do not act that way with their dad. It's only with me.

So I wondered. Then I remembered how it felt like to sleep with my mom. I used to be afraid of the dark because of all the scary stories of local lore that our maids and grandparents fed to us when we were kids. But I remember thinking one time when my mom gave me permission to sleep beside her, "Ah, now I can think and remember all the scary stories that I like! I won't be scared." And I wasn't. And I always think of where my mother was sleeping as a place where it was always clean and the pillows smelled nice (always nicer than mine).

Now I know.


kj said...

oh menchie, i have a lump in my throat reading this wonderful post. before i read it i was thinking how much i am enjoying getting to know you, and then here is this beautifully written, real, and touching story about children and the incredible mother-child bonds. i can so vividly see and experience your children touching their face with your hands, and your own experience with your mother. and i can also "see" your patience beyond its thin limits on a work morning when you have to pull everything together faster than kids can cooperate with!

thank you, menchie. you are a star in my 2007 sky!

kj said...

oh and p.s, joshua and faith are adorable! anyone can see what a good and great family you have.


Leo said...

You sound like Maysha. My daughter woke me up last night asking me to wake up her hand. I rubbed her hand until it felt better, and then she crawled into bed beside me.
We live for these moments...

-Princess Shin- said...

I used to sleep in my parents bedroom till i was 6 years old. Then i had to move into my own room when my brother was born. It was a terrible experience. But every weekend my mum would let me sleep in her room again and i always had this safe feeling. That nothing would harm me. Monsters or otherwise. It was a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Thanks for sharing! =)

Steven Novak said...

I was never allowed to sleep with my parents. On top of that my father put a GIANT stuffed owl on a dresser in my bedroom...

That thing scared the crap out of me at night. ;)


Ces said...

There is nothing more blissful than the family bed. I wish I had them long enough. Children grow up so fast. Menchie, you are a wonderful mother and by the sound of your words a truly adoring one. Your children are lucky to have you. You and your husband are their greatest gifts in their lives and they in yours. What a beautiful cycle.

Menchie said...

thank you for your kind words. Mother -child bonds are a wonder -- and i don't think it really disappears even if your children grow up.

Josh and Faith are adorable and I love them to pieces but they can be a handful...

You are such a great dad. Your kids are lucky to have you.

It must have been terrible for you to move out when your brother was born. I know how jealous Joshua was when Faith was born. I have to be really creative when the time comes for them to have their own bed.

LOL! That owl would have scared me too, even in the daylight. Can I saw "Ewwwwwwww!!!!"

Yes, I realize it is a cycle, isn't it?

Sometimes I struggle, and am impatient, then I feel guilty for leaving them for work or for beign short with them when I get home at night. The miracle, I think, is the ability of children to forgive their parents' shortcomings and focus on the good things. Which grownups should learn more of, I think.

Caroline said...

This is a beautiful post that really moved me. I understand every word. My children are growing so quickly and I love the tender moments. I love being mummy. Thank you for making me think and for sharing these moments. I am so glad that I know you.