I have returned to the phase of motherhood where I wonder if I’ll ever sleep again. It’s at least an hour before dawn and my infant son has just fallen back to sleep. My two older boys (3-year-old child and 35-year-old husband) are either snoring or sawing down large trees, I’m not exactly sure. I’ve decided to give up the fight and put on the coffee.
I’ve been down this road before. I know it gets better. I understand sleep deprivation is not some cosmic conspiracy to drive me crazy. Or maybe it is. Remind me to add that to the list of things I’m not sure about. I’ve been told I appear to be such a laid-back mom, and that’s partly true. The other side to the story is I often feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Dazed and confused but miraculously still alive.
After I had my first child, I couldn’t believe how awful I felt. That’s when I realized I had officially joined the secret society of moms. “Welcome,” the certified members whispered, giving me a knowing look and understanding nod. At the time I was pretty ticked off. I didn’t recall anyone warning me about the initiation, or rather, the hazing I would endure.
But eventually I came to learn what they already knew-- the fact I’m biologically wired to survive motherhood is a blessing. And this quiet moment, when I’m able to write and have a cup of coffee in silence, albeit at a freakishly early hour, is a blessing, too. Before I know it, my oldest son will come running down the hall, so happy to greet me, as if he hasn’t seen me in days. My baby will cry out, and he will give me a half smile just before chomping at the air in search of milk. Then my mind will cue that Darius Rucker song, the one where he reminds me it won’t be like this for long, the one that makes me want to pull over in traffic and sob on the side of the road when I hear it on the radio.
The other morning, my son dug through a basket of VHS tapes and handed me a Baby Shakespeare video. I was thinking, “He’s too old for this,” and wondering why we still owned a VCR when the narrator began reciting Robert Frost’s poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay. I know it very well, thanks to my middle school days and my friends’ preteen fascination with Ponyboy from the movie The Outsiders. As I listened to the words, I studied the curves of my baby’s face. I conceded I will never remember them quite as clearly as I see them now. The more I focus on the present moment, the more I realize just how fleeting it is.
I have more gifts than I can count, even if it does seem a bit unfair to receive them while I’m half caffeinated, half delirious. I try to capture this precious time in my life and hold it tight. I resort to begging, “Please don’t leave until I can catch up on my sleep!” But it’s true, nothing gold can stay.
So I remind myself each morning I rise (no matter how early it is) new gold is waiting. I just have to choose to see it. And on this morning, I have my coffee pot of black gold, steam rising out of my cup, just the right amount of cream and two Splenda. I want a lot of things in life, but for now, I’ll savor this small treasure.