I like to whine a lot about being sleep deprived. (Have you noticed?)
If the worst I do is complain, I’d say we’re all pretty lucky. On a daily basis, I adventure through the entire spectrum of emotions, from wanting to bawl hysterically to wanting to punch strangers to finally entering a zombie-like mode in which I am indifferent about everything, including the three Cheerios entwined in my hair.
So, yeah, complaining is pretty mild behavior, given the circumstances.
Despite the finger-pointing that occurs during my ranting, I must admit that there are extremely rare occasions in which the utter exhaustion is actually my choice.
I guess you could say that my decision to have children is actually the root of this painful byproduct and therefore I am always at fault for the bags under my eyes, but I would warn you against EVER saying that to someone who doesn’t sleep.
In general, it’s safe to say that my kids hate me and loathe the idea that I could ever be well-rested and therefore enact a plan in which they take turns waking me at all hours of the night.
However, there are nights in which I am the one depriving myself of shuteye.
I am talking about those moments that I know I could put the baby in her crib and head to bed, but I choose to linger a little longer. Just one more song. Just five more minutes in the rocking chair.
What is it about a sleeping baby that is innately irresistible?
A laughing baby will warm your heart, but a sleeping baby will obliterate any hardness in your soul until your entire being is just a puddle of mush on the floor.
This tiny little creature accounts for about 80 percent of my sleepless nights, but heaven help me, there are moments that I just want to hold her in my arms and stare at those chubby cheeks for hours.
Holding a sleeping baby is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time. It feels like something deeper. It feels like it’s something that I have been destined to do my entire life. It feels like I am cosmically connected with every mother who has ever been on the planet, human or animal.
When I hold my child and she nuzzles her head into my neck and breathes softly …
When I tilt my head down to kiss her and instantly remember the first time I ever got to smell the top of her head …
When her little mouth moves as though she is still nursing even though she finished long ago and is now simply dreaming about it …
When she does that little baby yawn that is so soft that you know you have never heard anything like it before …
When she and I are moving gently together through her room in total silence, and she has surrendered to the sleep she has been trying so hard to avoid ….
It is in those moments that I could not care less that I will be dragging all day the next day and will have to remind myself – several times – to brush my teeth and look in the mirror before I leave the house. And I still might forget to do both.
I do not cherish these moments every night, as maybe I should. I typically count down the minutes until I can put her in her crib and head toward solitude on our incredibly comfortable couch.
But every once in a while, I look down at those plump cheeks, long eyelashes and pursed lips and remember that yes, holding this bundle of peaceful slumber is exactly where I need to be right now.