Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sleep Comes

Following a week of very little sleep, it's hard not to be jealous of the way children seem to be able to fall asleep anywhere and at any time. While I can be so tired that I feel like I can hardly hold my head up, I still tend to lie in bed, wide awake, with the "to do" list of tomorrow running over and over in my head.

The boys, however, have no worries, no concerns about tomorrow, or what the new day will bring. They are still at an age of being held hostage by the demands of their bodies. They eat when they're hungry, quit when they are full, and doze when their body asks for it. When they are first born, parents are also held captive by this rigorous time schedule, feedings every few hours, long naps in the middle of the day, and awake again no matter how early in the morning it is.

I would give anything to be able to take even the tiniest portion of the energy my boys possess, bottle it and use it whenever I felt like it. If I could sell it, it would surpass any energy drink media campaign out there a hundred times over. The downside to having this kind of energy is that you crash and burn when it's all spent.

So, no matter what they are doing, how much room they have, or how noisy it is, they will sleep. The most conducive place for sleep for them is driving in the car. Usually because they have had a hard day of play or school and the warmth of the car's interior and gentle sound of the wheels on the road lulls them to sleep. Their heads usually end up at such an odd angle that I'm amazed it doesn't hurt them. I've mentioned before how I usually put a stack of pillows between them to rest their heads on, which is mostly for my sake since it pains me just to see them like that.

Sometimes the needs of their bodies come in pairs, such as eating and needing slumber. I've had many chuckles watching my tired boys, sitting at the table, doing what we have dubbed the "hungry chicken." It's that slow pecking motion that happens a few times, and then the head jerks up just before it's about to hit the table. I've watch them chew their food, their eyes complete shut, just trying to stay awake long enough to satisfy their hunger. I've also seen where hunger has lost to sleep, as the boys cross their arms in front of them on the edge of the table, place their foreheads on their little hands and are completely gone. I've pulled pieces of half chewed food, bottles and suckers out of their slack little mouths.

The positions they fall asleep in would make any contortionist envious. They drape themselves over arms of chairs, up-side-down, and sitting cross-legged with their heads resting on the floor. Lord help us if they fall asleep in our bed. I have had a little boy "hat" as he curls his body around my head, I've been slapped, kicked, pushed and nearly made to wet my pants when a hard little heel found my bladder in the middle of the night.

There are many nights that they fight the bedtime hour. Prolonging that dreaded trip to bed by pleading for a bedtime snack, a drink, or having to find that favorite stuffed animal or blanky has become an art. They will tell you they aren't tired, at all. My oldest will drag his feet all the way to the bedroom, grudgingly climb into bed and then ask for a drink. I go get him a glass of water or milk, and then while drinking, between sips, he will now tell me stories I have been begging to hear of all the things that have happened to him during the day. I have to follow the routine precisely, or he'll make me start over. First a hug, then a kiss, then a "sniss-sniss" (rubbing our noses together like an Eskimo kiss.) After all of that, I tell him I love him to the moon and back and he tries to come up with a distance that's even further to prove how much he loves me back. I turn out the light, say goodnight and as I take a step in to the hallway he says, "Mom? Can you send Dad in?"

Once asleep, at least for my children, there is nearly nothing that will wake them. I have unbuckled them from the back seat of the car in the middle of a snowstorm, carried them to the house (I'm pretty sure they are 4 lbs heavier when they are asleep) while the wind blew ice cold flakes on their little faces, laid them down in their beds and completely undressed them and re-dressed them in their PJs without them stirring. I don't even have to be gentle about it. I pull the boots off while holding them in a fireman's carry, yank on their socks, and have held them upright as I push plump rag doll arms through sleeves. All the while, they don't even flinch. I have, on several occasions, caused the smoke alarm to go off (it's my oven, not my cooking!) which is located within 2 ft. of all our bedroom doors. Not even a whimper. Of course, this works to my disadvantage when trying to wake them up in the morning. I try tickling them, bouncing on their bed, clapping my hands, singing loudly and off-key, and even stand them upright (whereas they immediately flop back on their beds.)

I don't know what it is, but there is something magical that happens when you watch your child sleep. You look at that cherub face, heart-shaped lips and long lashes and suddenly, no matter how hard your day, or how rotten they may have behaved, it's completely wiped away and forgotten in that single moment. My heart is warmed by the sound of their even quiet breathing. I just want to scoop them up and hold them close. I don't want them to keep growing so quickly, I want them to stay safe and sound and have beautiful dreams.

When Kamrin was a baby
Asleep in a laundry basket
Asleep in a hot tent while camping

A trip home


Sleeping like dad

Warms my heart

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