Joseph didn't sleep last night. Well, to be perfectly honest, he slept until 1 a.m. (roughly 2 hours after my head hit the pillow), and then woke up. Nothing in particular was wrong, he wasn't teething or hurting, he wasn't thirsty or scared. He woke up and decided that sleep was not on his agenda anymore, so he wanted to play, look out of the window, listen to music, and read books.
Do I need to mention what I thought of all those suggestions?
Finally, around 4 a.m. or so, sleep deprived, and on the verge of walking out, I shoved him in the car seat muttering the words-that-should-not-be-spoken under my breath and drove around the town.
At 5 a.m. we all crashed into the motion induced sleep hoping somebody cancels morning.
And the next day I woke up a mean mommy. A part of me despised the mother I was, the grouchy, the unfair, the indifferent, but mostly I kept filling up on caffeine, and telling myself it was justified.
Later in the day, we found ourselves sorting through some books at a local library when a small book practically jumped into my hands: Toddler: Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love. I smirked. I could so contribute.
And then, out of habit and curiosity, I opened the book on a random page.
The story's title was When Unthinkable Happens, and while I won't indulge into detailed retelling, I will say that it involved words like paralyzed, tumor, chemo therapy, and many others that should never be found in the same sentence with the word toddler.
Beautifully written, it was a story of survival, and courage, and beating the odds, and it served as a harsh reminder that I forget how good I have it.
I glanced over at my little person who was busying himself with rearranging the library book shelves and almost sobbed right there in front of the parenting section.
We all get so caught up in the race to raise a child, hurrying them along, rushing them to walk, to talk, to sleep through the night, comparing them to others, comparing them to ourselves, and getting upset when that comparison is not to our liking, when their actions don't fit the cookie cutter of our expectations. We forget they are a miracle, and a blessing, and time with them should never be taken for granted, even if it involves chasing them around the house at 2 a.m.
I often think that a big part of parenting is learning to let go. To let go of your ideas, of hopes about how it's going to be, of their hand. For now, I'll have to let go of my aspirations for a full night's sleep, and, more importantly, of the thought that I ever have a right to be a mean mommy to my fickle, irrational, urgent, tiny person that loves me so unconditionally.
Hug your babies extra tight tonight, they are a gift and not a given.