It’s been a long week. Kids were busy, work was busy, and I was short on sleep. The short on sleep part was my own fault as the husband and I stayed up late every night binge watching Hawaii 5-0 on Netflix. As our six year old would say “Not the best choice, right?” while tilting her head to the side as her eyes widen and her mouth curls into a crooked little smile. She shakes her head until I agree with her.
And to make it just a little more challenging to get through the last workday of the week, I was awoken by the shuffle of feet in the wee hours of the morning.
I opened my eyes and waited for them to adjust to the darkness as I searched for our early morning visitor. I could tell by the sound of the footsteps it was our daughter.
“What’s up baby-cakes?” I asked as I pulled myself up onto my elbows. I tapped the mattress next to me as she rounded the corner of the bed, her blanket swung over one shoulder.
“I had a bad dream,” she whispered hoarsely as her voice threatened to crack.
“Oh man, that stinks,” I said as I cuddled her in next to me and instantly felt her tense shoulders begin to relax. “Wanna tell me about it?”
“We were making pancakes for breakfast, and we ate them. And then a dinosaur came, and the pancake griddle caught on fire, and our house burnt down.” She nuzzled her warm cheek into the crook of my neck.
I tried not to laugh at the random nature of the dream, while at the same time feeling oddly proud that my six year old could come up with the word griddle in the middle of the night.
“Whoa, that sounds awful,” I said hoping that acknowledging her fear would help it quickly dissipate and we could get back to sleep.
“Well mom, it wasn’t all bad,” she said as if I was the one that only moments before had been near tears. “The pancakes tasted great!” I heard the smile in her voice.
“Well, I stand corrected,” I said letting out the laugh I’d held back moments before. “I’m glad it wasn’t all bad.” I kissed her head and pulled the comforter up around her shoulders. “Should we try to go to sleep?”
Almost before I finished the question I heard her breathing slow and within a minute she was asleep.
Ever since bringing our kids home from the hospital we’ve tried hard not to let them sleep with us. We didn’t want to start a habit we’d have to break and frankly, I never slept well with my kids in the room. Even now, I can never fully relax, always on alert for a change in their breathing that might signal a problem.
I knew I wouldn’t sleep well if she stayed in the bed next to me, but my eyes had adjusted to the dark and I could see her sweet sleeping face on the pillow next to me. I had the rare opportunity to snuggle her close for a couple of hours without her wriggling away.
So while I knew I would wake up extra tired, and likely a little sore, it wasn’t all bad. I had the opportunity to watch my daughter sleep and to hold her close.
Our kids are growing up so fast, I don’t know how many more chances like that I’ll get.