January 12, 2007

Safely sleeping

asleep

I've always thought that in many ways, pregnancy is the easiest stage of parenting. You don't have to worry where your child is or who she is with or who will be driving or whether or not there will be drinking. She's safely tucked inside your body, where you can feel her every kick, her every move. Sure, there are disadvantages to parenting a child you can't see yet, including the way she might kick at your bladder or keep you awake at night with acrobatics, but there is also that wonderful security of having her safe inside of you at all times. Once that baby is born, well, she grows quickly. Parenting is just a series of letting go, of allowing your child to grow up and become that independent, confident adult that, deep down, you want her to be.

I've enjoyed having my college kids home for the last month. Even in the early morning, when the house is quiet and I am just downstairs working on my computer, I love knowing that all my kids are safely sleeping here at home. Of course, even in their sleep, teenagers can be annoying: I was startled the first morning I was home to hear a deep voice coming out of the bedroom saying, repeatedly, "Boy in Black, wake the fuck up!" When I finally went into the room, wondering why Boy in Black had this need to talk to himself in an obnoxiously loud voice, I saw that he was sound asleep. What I was hearing was the message he'd put on his cell phone alarm. He sets his cell phone alarm to go off every ten minutes and then he ignores it for hours and hours every morning. After that first morning, he did change the message to some kind of ringtone, which was only slightly less obnoxious.

For the last two years, while my daughter has been at college, With-a-Why has been sleeping in my daughter's bed instead of the boys' room: he goes to bed earlier than his brothers and her bedroom gives us a quiet place for putting him to bed. So when my daughter is ready for bed, she has to move him over and make room for herself. He is growing fast, so the bed is beginning to get crowded, and soon enough, he'll be a teenager staying up late in the boys' room. But right now, for just a brief time longer, he is still a little boy who can snuggle with his big sister.

When my kids were little, I used to sometimes wake up during the night and check on them. It's amazing how a few hours of sleep can erase the memory of a terrible meltdown or an annoying squabble or the obnoxious repetition of a child singing a Disney tune loudly. In the moonlight, with their eyes closed, the long black lashes draped against pale skin, my kids always seemed at their most lovable.

I can remember the months after September 11, 2001, when none of us could erase the image of the Twin Towers imploding, again and again. My kids slept together in one room, huddled together for safety like a litter of kittens, clinging to one another in that time of horrible nightmares and daytime anxiety.

Now that the kids are older, they often go to sleep later than me. It's morning, with sun pouring in the east windows, when I walk around to check on them. Often bodies are strewn all over the boys' room (or on weekends, down in the living room). My kids and extras are kind of casual about where they sleep; each kid just grabs a blanket and pillow and rolls up on the floor. I have to peer at the hair to figure out which kid is which. Blonde Niece is the easiest to identify because she's got all that blonde hair.

This morning was the last morning of break, my last quiet morning to work in a house with all my sleeping children safely gathered around me. We've got a busy weekend, and then my Wonderful Beautiful Daughter flies to Big European City with a Famous Bridge. Boy in Black and his friends return to college. It will be May before I have all my children gathered safely in this house again.

14 comments:

Mel said...

Boy in Black's cell alarm cracks me up because it's nearly identical to something my brother did. One of my sister's was using his bedroom and awoke to his voice saying "Get out of bed, asshole." It was an alarm clock with a recording function.

When sister #2 and I shared a bedroom we had a period of time when we'd shove our beds together and sleep next to each other, or even sleep in the little aisle in between them.

AAYOR said...

What a beautiful post. It stirs so many memories of life at home with my 5 sibs when we were coming and going from college. I was especially touched by the picture and description of W-a-W and his sister. My Brother2 is 14 years younger, and when he was little, he was a sleepwalker. And invariably, he would end up in my bed (even though he shared a room with 2 other sibs)! It was amazing how his little body took up so much room!

PPB said...

Oh my. I would totally freak out at hearing that voice.

You have fun plans for the last weekend before #1 child flies away?

landismom said...

Yeah, that alarm would creep me out. But you're so right about the hours of sleep wiping away the difficulty of the day. I love to watch my children sleeping. And even in sleep, they're different.

Anonymous said...

I love the picture. The closeness of your family gives me such a deep sense of all that's right in the world. I love reading about it.c

Teri said...

You've done such an amazing job of teacher your children to care for each other. I can only hope that mine will grow to be so close.

Alarms which blare "Wake the fuck up," on the other hand, I could probably do without.

Anonymous said...

My daughter will come home for a break in February. For spring break she'll be in Sunny Spanish City, then who knows? She will graduate in May and has job prospects lined up. It looks like she will be settling in Bean Town or maybe in Massachusetts Town Named After Famous English University. Sigh. That's so far away.

Anonymous said...

This is our last day together. Older Daughter returns to college and won't come home for spring break, but is rather going to New Orleans to work on a Habitat for Humanity house.
It will be weird being down to 2 again.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on this one. I love having all my boys sleeping in the house when I am up early in the morning. Last night Buster left for New Orleans and I am feeling lonely! If he is in NO during your daughter's spring break we should hook them up.

Anonymous said...

I mean YT, your OD of course. I am getting blog dizzy.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how valuable I find it to be able to read about your experiences with growing and older kids. Mine are currently 5 and almost 4, and it is such a wake-up call to read in detail about the reality that they grow up and leave as quickly as they go from infant to child.

Anonymous said...

It brings tears to my eyes reading how loveable and adoring your kids are. You are so fortunate to have them all want to hang together and sleep (!) together as teenagers and more.

I love the alarm clock!

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Beautiful.

halloweenlover said...

You made this new mom cry.

First I thought that pregnancy was the easiest part of parenting, but now I think that having this newborn is the easiest part. At least I know where he is all the time, I take care of all his needs, love him to death, he spends tons of time in my arms. It seems so magical, I hate to think of him growing up! Mostly, I hate to think about letting go.