April 3, 2014

Sleep (while you still can)

I woke up to tiny fingers gently brushing my cheeks and touching my eyelashes.

"Can I watch a movie?" Felix asked in his sweet little 3-year-old voice. It was 7:15 a.m., late enough that Sam had left for work, but far too early for me to want to wake up on my day off. Spring break should mean sleeping in, but Felix missed the memo.

"Let's go back to sleep," I suggested. 

"But I'm awake!" His bright eyes and cheerful demeanor backed up his story. He bounced on the bed as further evidence.

"Go see if Evie wants to watch a movie with you," I said sleepily and adjusted the comforter. Is there anything more comfortable than a bed you might have to leave soon?

The next thing I knew, Evie was standing next to the bed, explaining something about a mountain troll and Golden Grahams. It was 9:30. Evie had gotten up with her brother, unwrapped a couple of cereal bars, figured out the Blu-Ray player, and watched nearly all of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

If sleep were an Olympic event, I'd have medals hanging from my bed frame. Given the proper configuration of pillows and a down comforter, I'm unstoppable. I can fall asleep in seconds, I can stay asleep through the loudest disruption, and I can sleep for 12 straight hours. I actively enjoy sleep. It's not just a bodily function; it's more like a hobby.

When I was pregnant with Evie, people warned me that a major sleep disruption was coming. "Sleep while you still can!" they said, which always confused me for multiple reasons.

After Evie was born, my competitive sleeping days were over. She was a pretty good sleeper, for a baby, but she wasn't Olympic-echelon like her mother. There were 2 a.m. feedings and 6 a.m. wakings and the occasional middle-of-the-night vomit incident. And she never, ever slept past 8.

There was a golden age when Evie was 2; after we moved her from a crib to a toddler bed, she didn't realize that she was no longer contained. We would sleep in on weekends (sometimes until 9 a.m.!) and would find her in bed, playing with her toys, waiting for us to come lift her out.

The ruse was up when Evie turned 3. We moved into a new house, and suddenly she was loose. She would appear next to our bed, standing so quietly that she would rouse us out of the deepest sleep. No matter how much you love a kid, and no matter how cute they are, there is something creepy about waking up to a little person next to your bed, staring at you.

Soon, Felix joined the world and the whole process of feedings and wakings and amplified cries on the baby monitor began all over again. Slowly, it folded into watching cartoons in pajamas on the couch. Most of the time, Sam volunteers for this Saturday morning ritual, because he is a hero and he knows how crabby I can be when I'm under-rested.

Today's milestone was a big one. This was the first time that both children were able to fend for themselves while I slept in. I rested comfortably, knowing that they were safely watching TV and not destroying the house or tormenting the cats.

A new era is dawning for our family. It's not just that my 7-year-old has a better understanding of our remote controls than I do. We're fully out of the baby phase. We can go places without carrying a diaper bag or worrying about changing facilities. We can (usually) eat in restaurants without tantrums or mid-meal toddler walks. We're all tall enough to ride the log chute at Mall of America.

Sometimes, I worry that I'll blink and the kids will be teenagers borrowing my car keys, and I'll be staying up late waiting to hear them come home safely.

I'll sleep now, while I can.

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