Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Thankful Reminder

I am a huge believer in karma. I think Earl (Jason Lee, in My Name is Earl, possibly one of the best television shows that ever was) said it best when he said, "do good things and good things happen."

I also believe that part of karma is finding things when you need them most. The right words at the right time, the teacher appearing when the student is ready for the lesson, that sort of thing.

So, the other day while sorting through a pile of old technology (is there a word for that? Things that were once the cutting edge and are now so laughably out of date?), and going through old disks (like the floppy kind and the ZIP kind) searching for files that I'm almost completely sure I discarded in a fit of organization a few years ago (reason #1 why hording sounds good to me: you might actually need that crap tomorrow which you are tempted to throw away today) and found something I had forgotten about but that made me so happy.

So here, with a few edits (because hello? I'm an editor) is the file I saved years and years ago and promptly forgot about:

I caught up with an old friend recently. We’d fallen out of touch several years ago due to moves and life circumstances, as things sometimes happen for military families. Back then, her son was 1; now I’ve got a 1-year old and her son is 8. Wow, could it really be 8 years since we were neighbors? Back then, I couldn’t imagine life as a mom. Things are sure different now.

So, what’s the big difference? Well, for one, I don’t get as much sleep. This week was a great example of that. On one particular night, my husband slept a restless, tossing, turning, blanket-stealing, kicking, snoring, snorting, coughing sort of sleep thanks to a nasty spring virus. My son, victim of the same cold, had a similar night. Me? No sleep for me. It’s like Mr. Sandman and the Soup Nazi teamed up just to deprive me.

I tried to retreat from the bedroom to the couch, but in our small, thin-walled home, I could still hear the symphony of symptoms from the boys. This was not a good night to be an overtired light sleeper. And with a sick baby, that just makes it worse. Every noise you hear (and those you don’t) are blown up to epic proportions in your head.

He started crying, so you check on him.

Was that moaning and groaning? Get up and check on him.

Why is he so quiet? Better check on him.

At that magic time of morning when my husband is up and off to work, when I have an additional half hour to stay in bed and my boy is usually out for another two hours? He’s up, bright eyed and grumpy as hell. No more sleeping for him. Of course, this was a mere two hours after I got him back to bed and about 20 minutes after I had actually fallen to sleep myself. Wakey-wakey!

A parent will tell you that the person most in need of sleep is the one most resistant to falling asleep. We’ve seen this phenomenon in ourselves, right? We’re exhausted and need to sleep but cannot seem to find it. When it comes to kids, it seems even worse. And when those babies sense that frantic need for sleep in their mommies? All bets are off. This seems to recharge them and encourage them to stay awake.

To say I was exhausted on this day would be an understatement. I was so tired that when I tried to feed my child, I didn’t have the strength to properly hold that bowl of hot cereal and down it went, straight to the carpet (who puts carpeting in a dining room? Damn rental house). Then, when you’re muttering swear words, trying to clean up the cereal before it turns to cement, popping up and down like a marionette between the floor and the sink and the garbage can, your child starts maniacally laughing at the impromptu puppet show you saw fit to provide for him. Yes, I gave him the stink eye. I’ll admit it.

The rest of the day goes thusly: he drops his cup… and cries. He can’t reach his toy… and cries. He needs a diaper change… so he cries. I change his diaper… he cries. His nose is running… he cries. I wipe it… he cries. You get the gist. And then he looks at me like, “fix it, mommy!” because it’s hard enough to be 1 without being sick on top of it.

And then, suddenly, the heavens open, the angels sing and he naps. And so do I! Granted, not for long, due to all the caffeine I’d been mainlining just to stay upright, but I’ll take my 20 minutes where I can. He sleeps longer than I do, so I even get a few moments of quiet where I’m awake and I can enjoy it. Pure bliss.

By the time my husband drags himself into the door after his long day of feeling like crap at work after his night of crappy sleep, my mood has improved. Well, a little bit anyway. We’re trying not to snap at one another in that way that we do when we’re both just stretched so thin, and then it happens.
Yessir, that's my baby!

I’m standing there by the table, folding clothes, baby playing with his toys a few feet away. Husband walks from the hallway to the kitchen, past the baby. Baby looks up at daddy, and then stands up, all by himself without holding anything, and walked like five steps. By himself. No assist. For the first time ever. He stopped and looked up at us both, a huge smile plastered on his little face. He knew what he did.

And suddenly, for me, the past few days just melted away. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t slept, that I dealt with a whining, crying, angry, snotty-nose baby all day. Because right now? That cranky baby just became a toddler. It wasn’t the first time I’ve dealt with no sleep and a crying baby, and I know that for sure that it wasn’t the last, either. But my boy just walked.

And that’s really the biggest difference between life before and after motherhood for me. The center of my world shifted down and over a few feet, transferred to this enigmatic, amazing little ball of needs and wants. Before, I couldn’t imagine life with kids. But now? I can’t imagine life without him.

Now, my son is 11 and I've got a 9-year old daughter, too. I get a full night's sleep pretty much every night, and when I don't, it's rarely because my kids keep me awake. It can be hard to remember those moments when they were babies, that time sort of blurs together and you forget the moments where you were at the end of your rope and hold onto the moments that matter, like his first steps.

And that's what I needed to remember that day when I found these words, this picture, a pile of forgotten memories. Let the negative fall away. Most of those gray moments have silver linings and focusing on the few good moments in the hours (sometimes days) of stress and insomnia makes life much more bearable. And the more you look for those moments, the more you'll find.


  1. Beautiful Mari- hoarding is not good for you, but this certainly is a gem.

  2. Absolutely fabulous (and fabulously written) peek into "a day in the life," Mari! I was immersed in the moments. Thanks! :)

  3. Thank you for posting this treasure.
    a sleep deprived mom