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Maybe it’s something only a mother could understand

standard November 26, 2008 2 responses

C has taken to tiptoeing into our room when she needs me in the middle of the night. She knows that she shouldn’t wake up her little sister if she wants mommy to attend to her needs. She’s also figured out that I tend to sleep with earplugs and, even though I can still hear my husband snore, I can’t always hear her whispering “Mommy” from her bed.

About once a week C wakes me out of a dead sleep (when you only get to sleep in short bursts you sleep hard during those rare moments) and makes me suffer a minor heart attack when she urgently whispers right into my ear “Mommy!”

She always wants me to reattach her pacifier to her doggy, find her a pair of socks, refill her sippy cup, or plug in her night-light. It’s never a big deal, never the disaster that I instantly assume, which is a good thing, because when she wakes me up like that I’m always disoriented for a while. You see, something about being jerked out of a deep sleep like that propels me back to when I was a little girl and I was the one giving my mother a middle of the night heart attack.

My mom didn’t sleep with earplugs. No my mom’s thing is pillows. She always sleeps with her head buried under two pillows and the covers pulled up tight. When C wakes me up I instantly remember that little girl hopping from one foot to the other in the cold bedroom, staring intently at the heap of covers on her parent’s bed. She’s watching to see if there’s a tiny opening, some way she can be sure her mom is under there. Then she sees it, slightly sticking out from under the duvet is a bit of her mother’s arm.

Now she’s got a problem. She’s tried whispering. She’s even tried whispering loudly, but her mother hasn’t stirred. Well, that’s not true, her mother grunted, so maybe she realizes she’s standing there. It’s getting cold in the bedroom, but she obviously needs her mom for something or she wouldn’t be there, and her mom is clearly not waking up. So, even though she knows exactly what’s going to happen, she timidly reaches out a shaky finger and she pokes the arm gently, so gently it’s almost a caress.

It never matters how gently she touches her mom, the reaction is always the same, her mom leaps up like she’s been electrified and hisses “What? What?!” She’s not mad, never mad, just surprised and they both stand there, stomachs in their throat, waiting for their hearts to stop pounding.

Years later, on the other side of the world, every time I’m sleeping with earplugs and C wakes me up, I feel the exact same way I did back when I was the little girl doing the waking up. My heart beats insanely and I struggle to keep the panic from my voice. And as I get up to help her with her I send a silent “I’m sorry.” to my mom. Back then I had no clue just how many emotions can flood the moment between deep sleep and wide awake.

Thanks to Peter for pointing out my obvious error in my post yesterday. You win some, you lose some, and you learn something every day. Ahem. Next time I try to be snarky I’m going to read a Manual of Style from cover to cover before opening my trap.

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2 responses

  • fantastic post… it makes me say the same ‘sorry’ to mom and dad for all of the times I can remember waking them up in the middle of the night.

  • I remember that exact feeling when I woke my mom up as a little girl. I almost wish K would do the same thing. His favorite technique is to plop himself unceremoniously in my bed and yell “Wake UP, Mama!” right in my ear.

    Oh, the joys of motherhood!

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