As the mother of a 7 month old baby, I ponder "sleep" often. It is an enigma. My children resist it with all of their might. They insist to me and themselves that they do not need it. They dread sunset's warning that the time for sleep is approaching. They whinge and screech when told they must go to sleep.
I, by comparison, desire sleep with every cell in my body. Every morning I find myself thinking or saying that I did not get enough sleep the night before. Every afternoon, I need a nap, but do not get one. After supper, I watch the clock, waiting impatiently for it to be bedtime. I am relieved when the house is finally quiet and settled, so that I can tiptoe into my bedroom and sink into my pillow.
As the mother of a baby, the topic of sleep comes up often in conversation. Friends want to know if I'm getting any sleep or if the baby is sleeping through the night yet. It is obviously a valuable resource for all parents. Those who are getting enough of it themselves offer encouragement and then silently rejoice that it's you instead of them. Those who are also deprived commiserate and share strategies for attaining more.
Then occasionally, I startle awake at 4 am and realize that the baby slept through his 2 am feeding. How I wish I could go back to sleep on those rare nights rather than waiting and worrying until he does wake. And there is a tendency every night to wonder if THIS will be the night that he sleeps until dawn. Will he achieve the holy grail of milestones this very night? The answer thus far has been no. And secretly, I smile over this. When I snuggle up with him in our rocking chair in the dark to nurse, it is the best part of my day. There are no distractions, no interruptions. Instead of breastfeeding the baby while simultaneously answering phone calls, reading email, helping with math, playing horses, reading stories, or playing Jenga...there are only the two of us. His sweet gulp, sigh...the only sounds. His body heavy with sleep and his sweaty head....my only focus. I can release all of my worries and frustrations as my love for this boy melts my own body, and I sink into this moment.
He'll sleep through the night eventually. For now, I'm content to let "sleep" remain a conundrum.