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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Petersen

The voice in the night

Ellie was a great sleeper from the start. At three weeks old she was sleeping through the night. By the time she was one, she was sleeping 14 hours at night and taking a 3.5, sometimes 4-hour nap during the day. I felt like I had hit the parenting jack-pot. Sure, we struggled in other ways, but all those dips and challenges were bearable after a good night's rest and copious amounts of "me-time" during her nap every day.

But alas, babies get bigger. The crib goes away. They learn how to turn door knobs. They gain the vocal capacity to tell you how thirstttyyy they are. They become wildly independent creatures that do NOT have time sleep because they are too busy scheming up excuses to come out of their rooms to tell you urgent! news! like "My knee is is itchy."

Ellie dreads bedtime like a hypochondriac dreads the plague. The sun setting earlier after the recent time change has really got her shook. "It's not bedtime yet? It's still daytime? Right? Mommy?....MOMMY?!?!" When the blessed bedtime hour does finally come we jump through all of her hoops. We read her as many books as she can haggle us for, click on a night light that's brighter than the surface of the sun, give her a lengthy back-scratch (and leg scratch, and other leg scratch, and my arms? Please?), we sing all the songs, snuggle her for a few minutes, pray, AND FINALLY we call it good. But, she does not. stay. put. She can be heard scuttling around at random times of the night. I'll turn around just in time to see her blond hair disappear behind the corner of the hallway that leads to her room. And quite often, in the middle of the night, when everyone else is quite, she calls for me.

Michael is a real pal, so he gets up plenty and tries to get her all settled, but boy, nothing does it for that little girl like her mama. Most of the time it's simple--I just go in, kiss her forehead, hug her tight, and she relaxes. Sometimes I climb into her toddler-sized bed and fall into a very uncomfortable sleep for a while before I leave. As you can imagine, this is... uh, inconvenient. I'm never jazzed about being woken up at 3 am. I hear that call of "Mommmmyyy!!!" from across the house and I'm annoyed before my eyelids even pop open.

But today I was reminded of a blog-post entry from 2015, written five months before I finally got a positive pregnancy test:

Because the thing about trials is that they seem to last forever. But the thing about trials is they can’t last forever. And the thing about trials is that once they are over it’s easy to just forget them. And if we forget, what was the point of going through them in the first place?

I'm guilty of forgetting, because, well, I'm a human. But oh, what Kelsey of 2015 would have done to hear that little voice in the night. How I love that I'm her safe place. It makes me wonder--how many days do I have before she quits calling for a middle of the night snuggle-fest? Like, really? I'm asking because right now she is so obsessed with me that if I'm not within her line of vision she yells for me all panicky, "MOMMYWHEREAREYOU?!" and when I tell her, "I'm over here." She tries to play it cool, "Oh. Um..I love you."

Parenting is hard. It really is. So when people say to soak it up, it doesn't mean that we don't get to feel tired sometimes. Because I am tired. But I didn't just sign up for this, I begged for it. I fought for the sleepless nights where the pitter-patter of little feet can be heard slapping against the hardwood floor. And while it's all harder than I ever could have imagined, it's also so much sweeter.

Life is short, snuggle now, sleep later.

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