I know I’ve written about sleeplessness before, but that was my own. You know a mother’s work is never done. Like most mommies and daddies, I’ve helped my daughters through their own dark nights many times.
When you were little, I would rock you. We would rock and rock and rock in the dark until your breath was slow and calm. I would hold my breath and press you into my body, leaning deep into your crib to cushion your little self from the release.
Somehow, you grew too big to rock. At bedtime each night, I lay beside you on the floor and “softly you” till you slept. My fingers, barely touching your skin, traced invisible lines on your arms, your back, your forehead. Once again, I listened for the signal in your breath before I stole one more kiss and slowly tiptoed away.
At times, bad dreams waited outside your door for their turn to visit. You were afraid to sleep and needed me. Side by side, we planned a better dream together. “Where shall we go tonight?”
“Hawaii,” we agreed.
In the dark, we sat in our beach cabana, watching the dolphins jump and play in the ocean. We’d walk down to the water’s edge and feel the sand soften beneath our toes as the waves rolled past us. The birds talked to us as they loitered on the sand. Shielding our eyes from the warm sun, we jealously watched the people on horseback in the distance. “Let’s do that tomorrow,” we planned.
Other nights, we would picnic in the park. The blanket was soft beneath us as we napped on full bellies. I taught you how to make a chain from the clover blossoms; we wore them till they fell apart.
One time, we went to the zoo. You were the luckiest girl there – you rode the giraffe. You were so tall sitting atop that beautiful creature, hugging his neck.
Some nights, I just quietly held your hand.
In the morning, you come to me, smiling through your sleep-filled eyes. You tell me about your night of dreamland adventures, familiar in such a good way.
“Good morning, my beautiful baby. How did you sleep?”
“Mommy,” you say each day as you curl up with your blankie in my lap, stealing just a moment more. “I got good sleep.”