I have to force myself to go to bed at a decent hour. The morning is unforgiving, what with the school bus coming at the same time every morning and all.
The last thing I do before I retire to my room where my husband is already sleeping – he wakes up at an unspeakable hour – is check on my children. Sure, they are four and eight, but I need to know they are there and well and sleeping comfortably. It settles me.
First I go to my youngest’s room. I ever-so-slowly turn the knob and softly walk to her bedside, where she is in a deep sleep. Arms still around her favorite toy, one leg out of the covers. I ever-so-gently move her leg and the covers so she is once again protected from the vicious air conditioning. She doesn’t wake, despite my hands on her leg and the ruffling of her comforter. She is sound asleep.
I retreat and close the door, again turning the knob ever-so-slowly, and stop for just a moment to make sure she doesn’t stir. And then I move on to the next room.
The door to my eight year-old’s room creaks. We keep meaning to put some WD40 on it, but somehow we always forget. So although I ever-so-slowly turn the knob, I ever-so-quickly open the door so I don’t prolong the creak. The night lights in her room are so bright I know immediately she is asleep. She’s made her way to the edge of the bed, kicked away all the covers, and has one arm above her head in an awkward position. I pull her covers all the way down so I can scoot her over. I bring her arm down to her side. I cover her up completely. Despite all the changes, she doesn’t stir. She is sound asleep.
I quickly bring the door just to the frame — to minimize the time of the creaking sound — and every-so-slowly turn the knob to keep the door closing as quiet as possible.
Despite the busyness of the day. Despite all of the fits, the arguments, the dancing around, the jumping, the insistence of not being tired, my children are — like they are every night when I check on them — sound asleep.
My role as a parent has brought a new set of worries to my life. I’m always wondering if we are making the right choices for them, if they are getting enough healthy food, enough exercise. Did I listen enough today? Did I reassure enough? Did I ask the right questions and make the right suggestions to help them form their ideas and interests? Am I doing enough?
Despite these worries. Despite my impatience, my willingness to be the Mean Mom, my efforts to encourage them to pursue the things that matter to them without pushing them too hard, my children are sound asleep every night. And that sight, that thought, allows me to fall into a sound sleep nearly every night. At least until they are teenagers.