There are some nights that I still sit straight up out of a dead sleep, eyes tensely open and alert to every teeny sound.
Perhaps it was one of our cats scratching at the bedroom door or the sound of a car's engine as our neighbor returns home early in the morning from working the graveyard shift. Or maybe it was the hum of the furnace on our cold, Ohio winter nights. No matter what the cause, my brain has been conditioned to assume that noises in the middle of the night mean a sick kid.
My daughter is now 14, so technically I've got four good years left until she becomes an adult. I write "technically" because in our world that is the age someone somewhere decided to label as the age your child become a man or woman. However, I'm 100% positive in four years my kid will still be my kid.
Backtracking 14 years, my daughter was never a "sleeper". I remember the lack-of-sleep induced brain fog that all new parents go through when they bring their newborns home. My brain fog lasted two years before my daughter slept through the night. So, writing that I remember the brain fog is only half true. I remember the feeling of exhaustion. But, as loving parents, we trudge through those early years.
When my daughter became school-aged, it seemed as though she caught every bug under the sun, and those bugs would rear their ugly heads right around two in the morning. With two or three teeny foot steps down her hallway, we were already standing on our feet, waiting for the worst. And the worst was generally a puke fest. We'd clean her up, clean the hallway up (she never did make it to the bathroom), and put her in our bed, checking her temperature every five seconds.
I've never said that parenting was pretty.
So, now I'm a parent of a teenager that handles most days with grace. Sure, we have those moments that teens so often get, feelings of inadequacy, proud moments when she's beaming from ear to ear because of her latest accomplishment or maintaining her straight A average, but overall I've been blessed with a teen with a serious lack of drama.
I still don't sleep through the night as soundly as many. It's the mommy in me that sits straight up in bed with every little noise, thinking for an instant that my teen is still a small child and needs my help.
Or maybe it's wishing my teen was still a small child and still needs my help.
Whatever the reason, those nights of hitting the ground running don't happen very much anymore, happily. I cannot stop the clock or my 14-year old becoming a woman in only four years (although it would be nice), but I can hold on to every moment and pretend once and a while that she's still a little girl in her twisted jammies and socks, long braids messy from a good night's sleep, and still sleepy-eyed as she walks down the hall.
And the best part? I wouldn't take back a single moment, puke fests and all.
So, no, I probably won't sleep soundly, but I'll give up a few winks for millions of memories that include my daughter.
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