It’s 3:38am and the rain is hammering down outside our bedroom window.
My husband is away on business. I’m parenting solo this week. My little guy woke up and demanded all the bed covers come off asking me to hug him and “sing mama”. So I’m pacing in the dark singing to my toddler.
The tug of sleep pulls heavily on my eyelids, but I stand here in the quiet black stillness softly swaying and singing. He is warm and relaxed in my arms, happy to have his needs met, blissfully unaware that mummy needs sleep too.
Here alone, it feels as though I’m the only person awake in the world. Silence wraps itself around me in place of the bed covers I long to return to; the creak of floorboards beneath my feet the only sound I hear above my own voice.
These are the tough times. The moments all parents know intimately. The weary, trying times. Trying in the way you would expect as a sleep-deprived parent, but also an opportunity for me to try a little harder. To dig deep, and be rewarded with priceless treasures.
Because while all I want is sleep and to return to my warm bed this is where the magic is.
The sweet knowledge that I’m the only person, in this moment, who can comfort his young soul. If I withdraw my love and don’t give him what he needs he’ll feel abandoned. Vulnerable. Insecure. And he’ll cry. Or I can choose to provide immediate security and comfort by holding him and singing in my terrible voice.
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This is parenting, pure and simple. The constant test of how far I can push and be pushed, how soft and malleable I can allow myself to become as I bend to the evolving needs of my child. As parents, we need to find the magic. It’s often hiding in the most unlikely of moments. Yet, when we uncover it parenting feels simpler. Smoother. Easier.
So, I choose to see this moment for the fleeting gift that it is. My eyes adjust to the darkness and I make out my faint outline in the mirror across the room. A powerful mama bear and cub bound by our entwined arms as we sway and wait for sleep to return. These fleeting daily connections we can make with our children often feel like chores.
Sometimes it takes a moment of darkness to shine a light on the privilege we are blessed with in being parents.
In challenging parenting moments, practicing gratitude is my savior, flipping negativity on its head. So, I am grateful to be my son’s sole parent this week.
I feel the weight of responsibility. It’s all on me. No backup. No family support. Yet, if things were different; if my husband were here now, maybe I wouldn’t find the magic. Maybe I’d be pacing in the dark resenting him for lying in bed while I sing to our son.
So I carry on in the wee small hours of the morning. If I can muster the positivity and selflessness to keep going, and be the branch bending in the breeze rather than snapping I feel fulfilled, happy and warm inside.
The intimacy stemming from these sleepy quiet hours deepens our connection. And by mothering my son, I’m also nurturing my own soul, nourishing and healing the child within me.
Love truly is a verb. I can’t stop smiling. And then I feel it.
My son’s little face melts into my shoulder. He relaxes and surrenders into sleep. We quietly slip back under the covers together. He nuzzles into me and I listen to the rain outside. I think of all the other parents out there quietly and gently doing the same thing right now and feel comforted. I know I’m not alone.
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* This post was originally published on 22 January 2016 and updated on November 6th 2017