This post is for mommies (parents) and that feeling that seems to intensify as the sun approaches the horizon. As a mother of a newborn and 20 month old, the onset of evening brings about an anxiety and nervousness that’s difficult to describe. There is a certain unpredictability about night time, a certain angst, a certain feeling that fills the air. During the day, I feel (mostly) in control, I feel like this parenting thing isn’t too bad, I feel like I could manage a litter of children. Then, just as I am feeling a false sense of confidence, the sun begins to set and my mind starts to race about what the night will bring.
Something about the beautiful starry night suddenly sends my heart beating. At first, it’s not so bad. Like slowly walking through the shallow end of the pool. My husband (Derek) and I are strategically planning for the night. Weatherbaby1 is fed, bathed, and in bed while Weatherbaby2 is fed, usually laying on a shoulder and wrestling sleep. Derek grabs the diapers and wipes and I make sure we have clean baby blankets and burp cloths. Once all the “items” are in place the heaviness of “what will come tonight?” starts to permeate. You know that slope between the shallow end of the pool and the deep end, well, I slowly feel myself heading further into the deep end, feet slipping out from under me as water is rising.
Then we sit, we stir, and we wait….Do I go ahead and go to sleep or does Derek? Do we determine night time shifts, or play it by ear? Should we wake Weatherbaby2 to change his diaper? Will we be faced with the unexpected scream from our daughter and left to decipher the cry, determining whether it needs our immediate attention or if we just need to let her cry this one out.
Then there is the silence when both babies are sleeping. This may appear as a victory for mom and dad, but in reality the silence is louder than a jackhammer. It’s the time when I’m obsessing over the monitor. I’m squinting to see if I can see the rise and fall of the chest, just to reassure myself they are breathing. At night, the silence is loud, the baby’s sniffles are alarming, the cries seem more urgent.
Did I mention, it’s during the night when I’m supposed to be sleeping, recharging, and resting. I am scared of the dark because it’s hard to sleep. It’s difficult to rest in confidence when you think your babies need your unrelenting attention. I have to remind myself that my eyes do not control their breathing. My presence does not remove their little colds. My hugs and holds don’t always eliminate tears.
The evening can be stressful for parents of a little one. It is not the time to have marital talks about communication or judge your spouse’s parenting ability. The intervals of sleep can range from night to night. A routine is great and I am a creature of habit and I love schedules for our littles ones, but the reality is we don’t always get what we want. You’re learning them, their learning you. Sometimes I feel like parenting, especially at night, was invented by God as one big social experiment. (Disclaimer: that’s just how I ‘feel’ I don’t really believe that). I even sleep with a hallway light on just so the room is illuminated enough that I can see my baby boy. I need the comfort of seeing if his eyes are open or closed, to see his breathing chest, to see if he has moved. I mean, if I turn off the lights will my child vaporize into thin air? Highly unlikely. But it’s the light that makes the roughness of night a bit be more bearable. Last night, I whispered to my husband, “I’m about to be brave” and I preceded to turn the hallway light off. That lasted about 6 seconds. That was the time it took me to walk from the light switch to bed, where I immediately turned on the flashlight on my iPhone. That flashlight stayed on all night with phone next to me and light directed towards the ceiling.
Here’s to another day where I feel like I’ve got motherhood (almost) under control, and to another night where I slowly begin to unravel as I submerge myself into the deep end of the pool. I’m thankful that the sun rises again and some of my fears washed away with the dawning of the day.
To all parents out there…hang in there. You ARE doing a great and wonderful job! Remember, babies don’t come with manuals…..and from me to you, I think it’s perfectly okay to be scared of the dark.