It’s 2:00 am and he’s splayed across the bed, hot breath on my cheek, dirty feet hanging off the edge. Why does he sleep like this? His arm swings up and flops across my cheek and I jerk my head away in response, because it hurts and I’m annoyed, and why does he sleep like this?
I stumble out of bed and move to the couch with a sigh. I didn’t have to let him sleep in my bed tonight. I know that. But dad is out of town, and when there’s a vacancy in my bed, they like to fill it. They think they’re doing me a favor, keeping me company. I tell myself that they’ll only be young once and in ten year’s time no one will want to keep the other half of the bed warm for me when dad’s away.
At least I hope not, because I feel like that would be weird.
In the quiet dark as I huddle under a blanket that’s not quite warm enough, I take stock of the last few days. Four of them and one of me means at any given time I’m letting three people down.
I only saw a few minutes of his game while I saw most of his brother’s.
I couldn’t watch her do gymnastics tonight because the baby needed to sleep.
He needed help with a Power Point presentation, so I couldn’t help the other with his reading.
The baby spent most of her time alone in the exersaucer instead of being engaged and held.
It’s okay. I know it’s okay. No one suffered. Everyone was cared for and fed and clothed. But the pressure of feeling as though I dropped the ball mounts at 2:00 am. Darkness always whispers lies.
I roll to my side and thoughts drift to the upcoming school year. There are decisions to be made – big decisions. The kind of decisions that feel monumental in the middle of the night, but when daylight comes you’re reminded that these decisions won’t make or break the family.
Can you make a wrong decision in the daylight? I guess you can, but if you’re prayerfully seeking wisdom, and all of your options are good ones, I don’t think it’s likely. Lee’s dad taught us that. Perhaps it’s one of the most valuable lessons he ever passed down to us as a married couple.
If you’re seeking the Lord, then whatever decision you make is the one He wanted you to make.
Such freedom. I’m thankful for that lesson he taught us.
Morning will come swiftly and 2:00 am rolls into 3:00 am while I still lay awake. The good news is the baby is still sleeping. It’s ironic, isn’t it? The night she sleeps all the way through, I’m wide-eyed on the couch.
I love my children. Deep down in my very core I feel the love bubble and churn. I love the baby in the crib who grins with her whole face when she’s happy. I love the seven-year-old with the spindly legs and smattering of freckles who’s currently splayed horizontally across my bed.
I love the nine-year-old who works harder than most grown ups I know, and who isn’t afraid of anything. And I love the eleven-year-old who is so much like me in personality that he makes parenting a challenge, because have you ever tried to parent yourself?
It’s 3:30 and I feel my eyelids finally getting heavy. I forget about all the ways I dropped the ball the day before, all the times the kids had to figure something out on their own because there isn’t enough of me to go around – all the times I didn’t respond appropriately because too many people were talking at once. I let those moments roll off my shoulders.
No, they didn’t get showers last night, or a healthy meal. Not everyone got in their full thirty minutes of reading, and I forgot to sign two out of three take home folders yesterday prompting notes from the teachers. I didn’t do things perfectly.
But I gave out sincere hugs and kisses before bed. I laughed heartily with them at dinner as we listened to the comedy station on Pandora. I gave a little to each of them in the areas they needed most.
I decide to accept the fact that despite not doing everything perfectly, I’m still the perfect mother.
And guess what?