Friday, August 9, 2013

I give her all my love. She gives me more.

After baby woke up for the third time at 4 a.m. this morning, my husband rolled over and curled his arm around my waist. "It won't be like this forever, honey."

It was a terribly warm night. I underestimated the a/c setting, and all of us were suffering for it. God bless her, baby was trying her hardest to bear it without my help. Her port-a-crib is next to my head, so I hardly ever miss a move or noise. She flopped and kicked and sighed and pivoted and yawned and stroked the sides of her crib until 4 a.m. when, doggone it, this was ridiculous. She let out a piteous cry of desperation, and I didn't hesitate to grab her.

"My baby," I whispered, "what a rotten night, huh?" She let out a noise which almost sounded like a heartfelt "Amen." Both Dada and I snickered. I'd started out the bedtime ritual with the wrong energy, combine that with hot sheets and stale air, and you've got a night of misery.

Holding a child in your arms is an intimate thing. I don't always realize it, because I do it for so many hours a day. But it's close, it's personal. Therefore, if I'm anxious and rushing through the process, why should I be surprised if she absorbs that? Such was my story last night. I was bouncing and deep-squatting this girl in the exact same way I do every night, or so I thought. But it was rote. It was auto-pilot. My mind was racing, my thoughts were anywhere but with her, with us. I wanted her to hurry up and sleep so I could go to the bathroom, so I could brush my teeth, so Dada could sleep, so I could sleep, finally, just lie down and put this day behind me. It wasn't happening. I quickened my pace, I walked more, I talked more, I sang louder. It wasn't happening. I got so flustered, I set her down on the bed and walked away. "I just need a minute," I told them both. I felt selfish. I felt out of control.

Three deep breaths. Okay, three more. Wait a minute. What was I just doing? And how exactly is that supposed to put her to sleep?

Change my tune. Relax the space between my eyes. Just hold her, and let her find the resting spot. I've got nowhere to be tomorrow. And Scott will be okay. Just hold her, and let her feel from me the peace and rest I want for her. Because nothing is more important than this. How can I teach her how to embrace sleep if this bouncy, frantic pair of arms are the vehicle? Even if it takes all night. Teaching her to be calm starts with me.

I went back in and took her in my arms. Dada had been cradling her next to him in bed, talking softly to her until I was ready to come back. His energy was spot on. I held her close and focused on my breathing. She was out in five minutes.

It's true what they say: they teach you far more than what you teach them. I'm learning that to have a child is to have a mirror held up to who you are - 24/7. You see where you come up short. You see what you need to work on. The lessons she needs are the lessons I still need, just maybe on a different level. The lessons she teaches cut to the very center of me, and it hurts sometimes. But what a difference she's made. I do things now I never could before. I didn't know I wanted more patience, more peace, more selflessness. But she knew I could be better. She came to love me so preciously, and to teach me, just as much as I wanted someone I could love and raise up to be a person of light. And together we work to build each other into Goddesses, with a capital G. Wringing out all those nasty hang-ups, hiding in the crevices. Calling me out, demanding and expecting a better me to mother her. What do I do for her? Give her food, a fresh diaper, and a safe place to explore. I give her the very best I can do, which, some days, is not much at all. And love. I give her all my love. That seems to be all she needs, and there she goes, changing the world already.

I know someday, not far from now, when this phase we're in, this "sleep trouble" thing, is long gone, she won't be around to hold, to suffer through hot nights with, to teach me about me. It really won't be like this forever. Part of that's okay, and part of that makes me sad. From this vantage point, I am more determined to breathe in every moment of it. Change my tune, relax the space between eyes, and just hold her.