I get up and walk downstairs to our kitchen to pour myself a cold glass of milk. I sit down at the kitchen table, the only light coming from a street light outside our house, and take a sip.
I can’t sleep.
My mind is racing with a million thoughts.
Crying baby girl
In the midst of my thoughts and worries, a passing memory floats to the top. I remember sitting in the same exact spot oh so many years ago on a night not that different from this one. My wife and I had a bouncing baby girl. She was the light of our life. She normally slept pretty soundly, but when she didn’t, our routine quickly went out the window.
I remember the three of us, my wife and I and our daughter, who had to be no more than 2, all sitting down on the floor in her room. My wife and I exhausted and our daughter, wide awake and full of giggles. We’d put her down in her crib and she’d get right back up and start bawling for us to come back.
A climb to freedom
On this night, she figured that she’d turn into a cute little monkey and climb out of the crib. All these years later, I still don’t know how she managed to climb out, I don’t think I want to know, but she couldn’t have been more pleased with herself. My wife and I were beside ourselves. My wife was pregnant with our second child and we were both tired from work and just trying to make it to bed ourselves, where we’d recover and start the routine all over again.
We would lay our daughter down, come back in when she climbed out of bed, lay her back down and repeat the game. And to our daughter, it most certainly was a game that I must add, she was winning. My wife and I collapsed on the floor, waving an imaginary white surrender flag. We would both need to get up in a few short hours.
We dutifully played this game for much of the night—we would later figure out a way to let our daughter cry herself to sleep, but that’s a story for another day. On this night, we played the game until we finally got our daughter to sleep.
Hello darkness, my old friend
Before going back to bed myself, I grabbed a glass of milk and sat in completed darkness, praying for a smooth morning.
Oh, the years have flown by. Our daughter doesn’t wake us up much in the middle of the night, nor do our other two children, two sons, one thousands of miles away or our youngest, still in high school. Still, I sit once again in darkness and listen to the eerie quiet, the lone noise I hear is the gentle hum of our refrigerator.
I look out the back window and stare blankly into the trees that sit behind the house. My worries have changed. I don’t much worry anymore about bedtime or naptime. My worries now seem bigger, seem more adult like.
I remind myself that this too shall pass. My daughter may have fought us, but she eventually fell asleep. And yes, sleep now will eventually come. I need to trust and have faith.
In the end, I gulp down the last bit of the milk and make a decision to try to fall asleep again . . . this time opting to try to count sheep.