My eyes are burning, stinging as I sit here typing. They are strained from pouring over a book; a good, soul-stretching one that is causing me to lose sleep. That is the way of a really good book. You fall into it, head first, and emerge with blood shot eyes and a deeper understanding of your own heart.
The book I am reading is about a little girl in need of a heart transplant. I do not yet know if she lives or dies. I find myself turning the pages eagerly, yet gingerly. I want to know what happens, yet my stomach is clenched, and I can’t help but to think of the two slumbering babes a dozen feet away. Motherhood has changed me in innumerable ways, and one way is that I can no longer read or watch some of the things I did pre-kids. Law and Order SVU is out, as are really scary movies. I hide from the news of bad things happening to children, and shun violent television. In my heart of hearts, I do not think these terrible and inhumane things are going to happen to my children. Yet, I know that even fictional characters have fictional mothers, and I can not separate my heart and mind.
I guess I am softer than I used to be. I never want to be a “worrier,” but I find I am more easily alarmed than I used to be. It is as if all of my instincts are more sensitive. I have studied and learned my children’s cries, their whimpers, their expressions, breathing patterns and normal temperatures. I alone know them better than anyone else in the world.
And yet, even when I am sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are okay when I lay them down to sleep, I can not stop myself from returning to their room, every single night. I creep in, often using the illumination from my cell phone as a guide. First I check on Jonathan, place my hand on his back to feel the rise and fall of his chest, or if he is restless, I crouch down and just listen for his little boy breathing.
When I am satisfied that all is well with my firstborn, I walk over to my little girl’s crib. Faith likes to sleep bear-hugging her blankets. As she softly snores, I tug one of the blankets free, drape it over her cold feet, and whisper a prayer before leaving the room. My children are close to 500 days old, and except for a few nights when we were away from each other, I don’t think I have missed a night.
I have tried to skip this evening ritual. I told myself that they were fine, that I didn’t need to bother them with the slivers of light from opening the door. Invariable, I made it as far as my husband’s office, and had to turn around. There is something magnetic about a sleeping child. I simply can not help myself.
Ah, well, my eyes are even more tired now, and I am headed to bed. But not before creeping in to my little ones room, and making sure that all is well.