I have joined a crazy cult.
We wake up in the middle of the night (or the earliest of mornings, depending on your perception). We trade the cozy of our beds for dark, clear roads. We wait huddled en mass for the door to be unlocked.
4:58, 4:59, open
We disperse, most headed for the lights and music. Me, I peel off my clothes and head straight for the water. One mile, 1 hour later, I am happy and ravenous. The traffic is palpably different on the way home from the gym. It’s still early, so we move along, but it is nothing like the flying to get there.
Still, it’s been a hard adjustment.
I don’t miss the sleep (never my forte) as much as the cuddles from my little boys who sometimes crawl into our bed in the wee hours. They never come to Daddy’s side of the bed, only mine. Now, sometimes, I’m not there.
There’s an arrow to the heart.
But I need this, and so I go, knowing that most mornings I wouldn’t have any little visitors anyway. Last night, just past midnight Jack came, apparently prepared to camp out with me all night. At first it was lovely, then I started feeling the confinement of being the middle of the sandwich. I grew restless. Hourly, I checked the clock, always thinking it was much later. Should I ask him to go so I can sleep? He would, and he would be fine.
I swapped my pillows and took hold of the little body with chilly arms beside me. I covered him, first with a cashmere blanket I found on a street in South Beach 10 years ago, and next with reverence for the blessing of his existence.
Thank you, God, for giving me this baby.
He is six, time most people stop calling him a baby. But they don’t see how angelic his face is in the middle of the night. They only see him grow out of clothes and toss a football. They miss the snotty tears of frustration when he feels misunderstood and the dent of his chin on my shoulder when I carry my tired monkey to bed. As a mother, I see it all: the baby, the boy, the prayer of a man. I know each and everyday he grows a little bigger and a little more out of my reach. I recollect all the nights I slept in an empty bed and how I longed to fill it with someone who loved me. I suspect there will be a time in the future when I will once again sleep alone and long for company that won’t be a dream, but rather a sweet memory of when my life was so full.
I nuzzle up and let his breath move my hand up and down. I settle into the greatest miracle of my life, and the magic of restful slumber finally pulls me under.
Until it’s time to swim.