Wait, is that the baby crying?
I quietly ascend the stairs, hoping with each step that my trip is in vain and sleep will come without my assistance.
Not to be. My daughter sees my shadow as a sign to start talking.
"Mom, I thought my hands were dead."
"What? You thought your hands were what?" I think she said, "dead". I have no idea what to do with her three-year-old thoughts sometimes.
"I thought my hands were dead."
"Did you wake up your brother?" I try to ask without judgment, though I have my suspicions based on the fact that he was fully passed out when my husband and I left the sleeping loft only minutes before.
|The Children (Photo by Donna O'Mara)
"Why were you out of bed?"
"I WASn't, Mom!" As one of our friends calls it, a threenager.
"Well, how did you wake him up?" I'm more curious now than anything.
"Probably by clapping."
"Clapping? Why were you clapping?" Again, trying to keep my tone calm and bedtime-like.
"I thought my hands were dead so I was clapping them together."
Oh, my love. My sweet, sweet, darling girl. Your hands are definitely not dead.
"Ok. Your hands aren't dead. But if you're ever worried and you need to check, just shake them like this, instead of clapping." I shake my hands frantically in the dark air like I am trying to get a stuck booger off them and I don't care where it lands.
I hope she can see me. Then again, maybe she could just close her eyes and go to sleep...
I pick up the baby, whose cries have escalated since I came into the room and didn't pick him up within microseconds.
And, within microseconds, he is calm and resting again. I nurse him, and while he's eating the sounds machine turns off. That means it's been 46 minutes since I started putting them to sleep.
That used to drive me NUTS. If bedtime took a minute longer than I thought it should, my ire was up and almost inconsolable. I had stuff to do, and things to attend to.
This is why I spent the last few years discarding a lot of the What in my life, so I had more time and space and energy for the Who.
The lack of What in my life means we live in this small house, and we don't have thick doors on big rooms for our own purlieus where babies can sleep in peace from the interesting drowsy thoughts of their big sisters. It means I can't watch Netflix when the baby is still awake. This is the truth of a small house.
But now, sitting on the edge of my daughter's bed, I take the opportunity to clasp my daughter's hand, to watch the baby's sweet little sleepy face, to rest for a moment instead of rushing off to whatever it was I used to rush off to. It was so important, I can't even remember what it used to be.
They both fall asleep, hard. There's even a little bit of snoring. I lay him down and cover her up. Sweet peace, at last!
I slip downstairs thankful for the shift in my life that brought me less stuff, smaller house, and more connected to my (amazing) family.