My husband is forever telling me that I need to be tougher with my daughter. That I need to ignore her cries more often. That I shouldn’t race up the stairs every time she shrieks in the night.
He means well. He’s trying to save me from night after night of interrupted sleep—and the black circles and foggy thoughts that accompany them.
But while the exhausted, can’t-I-just-sleep-for-12-hours working mom in me would love to roll over and put the pillow over her head, the Mommy in me can’t do it.
Why? Well because as much as I love my sleep, those nighttime snuggles often do my heart good.
In those moments, the feisty, independent toddler who wants to do everything for herself is gone. In her place is the sweet little baby I once knew, who just wants to be close to her mama.
When I pick her up, her tear stained face relaxes and her stiff body goes limp. Her hand—far less chubby than it used to be—fists in my hair. She burrows down until she can hear my heartbeat and closes her eyes with a sigh, safe in the knowledge that her Mommy is there.
In those moments, my body regains the rocking rhythm of those first months, swaying side to side in time with her breath. Something in me releases, a tension I didn’t know I was holding disappearing. I see the shadow of her newborn self in her momentarily still features, and I am transported back in time.
I am Mommy. She is my baby. The real world has yet to separate us. I can give her everything she needs, be everything she needs, if only for that small moment in time.
No amount of sleep is worth more than that.