There comes a point in parenthood when you shed the cloak of infancy. It is a gradual movement. Slow and steady but always moving toward the floor. The children begin to grow and become their own independent people. They run off to play at the park with friends. They make choices all on their own. They can get themselves a glass of water. They tell you “I do not need your help, mom!”
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The nighttime cries slowly become quieter and quieter until they cease almost entirely. When they do happen, it is usually because something is wrong. Maybe a six-year-old threw up all over himself and his bed. Maybe a two-year-old decided to leave his bed and fell asleep on the floor, waking up entirely terrified. In those moments, your trusted cloak readies itself for duty and slips back on like an old friend.
As you nurture your once again baby, you find yourself looking on it in a new light. You cherish these middle of the night calls to duty. You rock that two-year-old until his cries cease and his sleepy eyelids slowly reclose. Then you transfer him lovingly to his warm bed. As he stirs and cries “mama” you tell him you are there, moving your face to touch his as you rub his back, hair, and face. He rolls to his side and moans one more time before settling in. You drape his blanket over him and slowly stand back up, silently shedding that cloak once more as you tip toe out of his room.
As you sit up, watching movie after movie with a vomiting six-year-old, you look at how fragile he looks in this moment. His long black eyelashes gently dusting his skin when he does get a moment of peace. Your cloak is once again ready to report for duty. You settle into it as you hold a bowl under your child’s face, so he can throw up into that and not all over himself. You get up countless times to rinse that bowl out. You do your best to keep your own eyes open. Your son’s sharp cries over his stomach pain snapping you back to the world of alertness. When a particularly bad moment of dry heaves happens and he has a panic attack because he cannot breathe, you rock that boy in your arms just as you did when he was eight pounds and brand new. You use your best soft voice to reassure him he is going to be fine. You rub his back, hair, and face. The cloak stays on for a long time that night. Until you both are finally able to get an hour or so of rest. When you wake before he does, you look over at your peacefully sleeping child, those long black eyelashes dusting his skin again. He is finally calm and the storm has passed.
As you creep out of bed to start your day, the cloak once again falls off. Your multi-tasking mom cloak throws itself over you. You have another, healthy, child to tend to, regardless of how tired you are. Much like those newborn days. While in the moments of infancy, this lack of sleep is often so overwhelming. There is a different feeling with this new kind of sleep loss, you savor it. You reflect and think about how much you enjoyed that rough night, moment, cuddle, and cry for “mama.” They are so few and far between during the childhood days, that when they do happen, you welcome them like the old friends they are. Life moves so fast. Children seem to grow even quicker. It is hard to cherish every moment, especially when you are in the thick of it. That is why, every once in a while, your old cloak throws you a bone, and lets you relive those intense I need you mommy moments, with a clearer and far more rested mind.