The Privilege of Being a Mom

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

      I wake up to Clara's cries often between two and four in the morning. I think she has nightmares, the way she breaks out of sleep screaming.
      I'm startled awake and my heart begins to slow back down. I have nightmares, too. Normally, they're about Clara being harmed or taken away from me. Consciousness reminds me that all is well, and she's directly above me in her room.
      I drag myself out of bed, rub the sleep out of my eyes, and trudge up the stairs. I open the door and there she is, standing in her crib, tears streaming and gasping for breath. I greet her open, reaching arms with sleepy words and hugs. She begins to relax, sniffling every so often.
      I rock and bounce her and sing her favorite songs. She seems to fall asleep on my chest, breathing deeply and absently squirming. I lay her back down, but it never works the first time. Same routine, place her teddy in her arms for her to cuddle, wind her music box, cover her with her favorite blankie that her Grandma Vickie made. Not this time. She's awake and standing, tears beginning again before I can make it to the door.
      Her outstretched hands clasp and open in desperation to be comforted. My body and mind fight the welcome idea of sleep. Cuddling her and singing once again quiet her sobs and she relaxes against me. I lay down with her on the twin bed next to her crib that my sister sleeps on when she's home from school.
      She closes her eyes and nudges her head under my chin. She fidgets for awhile. She strokes her hair, and touches my face. She feels my eye lashes, rubs my face, and slowly quiets her movements. After a tired, final sigh, she drifts away. If I haven't fallen asleep already, I rise and lay her carefully in her crib once more, repeating her bedtime routine.
      As I sneak out of her room and return to my own, I'm grateful for the silence. But I'm also counting my blessings. I'm the only one who can save her from her scary dreams. The only one she reaches for so desperately. I love her cuddles. I don't get them much anymore. Not in her waking hours.
      The best part? She's mine forever.      

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