So here I sit. 4:04am. Those big blue eyes stare up at me in wonderment. My eight week old daughter is in my arms, writhing and wriggling as she struggles to digest her extra thick anti-reflux milk. It seems hard for her little body to deal with the eagerly ingested five ounce feed. She is beautiful.
Last night she woke at 1:30am, just an hour after I had managed to fall asleep myself. We were both still awake at 4:30am. A hard night yes, but nonetheless I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Luckily it’s half term so there was no 7am wake up call or school run to do meaning I could at least salvage a couple of hours rest this morning.
I find it’s these times, when our busy chaotic household is sleeping and the conversations, laughter and tears have all faded into sighs of slumber, when I snatch a little quiet time with my thoughts. It’s a valuable thing to have moments of peace of mind, especially when you have four crazy young children and a creative whirlwind of a husband.
I find clarity comes at night. When all the background noise dulls to nothing more than birdsong and the soft breathing from my littlest and biggest loves either side of me, I process the day’s events, remembering the hilarious moments afforded to me by our very own bunch of mini comedians. Revisiting the tears and the tantrums when they inevitably clash with each other. Reminiscing about the cuddles and I love yous.
I assess my parenting; how did I do today? Did I handle that tantrum ok? Did I make it worse by not being as patient as I could have been? Did I respond to each of the extraordinary stories they tell with enough enthusiasm? Did I feed them well enough? Did I teach them valuable lessons and allow them to embrace the world as children should? Did I give each member of my little universe, including my husband, sufficient attention? The answers are not always yes.
When our daughter was new I struggled with this. The extra demands on my time and energy were near impossible to take in my stride. For those first few weeks we all suffered in different ways while our family unit adjusted it’s balance and found its new axis. I went through a period of beating myself up about this. I felt like I was failing. Failing as a parent, a wife and even as a person.
As the weeks have moved on so has my mental state. Now as I sit here watching those big blue eyes and tiny fingers exploring as she feeds, I find myself feeling a rather proud sense of achievement. I kept four mini versions of my husband and I fed, watered, safe and happy today. I took them outside into the world and gave them opportunities to discover and explore. I laughed with them and played with them. I encouraged discipline when their behaviour was inappropriate. I talked with them. I cuddled them. I helped to each one of them to grow just a little bit more today.
While writing this tonight our two year old had a nightmare. Apparently he doesn’t like the wolf and said wolf is incredibly frightening. He clung to me desperately and sobbed while I reassured him that there really was no wolf and that he was in fact safe and warm in his bed. His little voice in my ear and tiny arms wrapping tightly around my neck tell me all I need to know about my parenting. He is safe and loved in my arms. No big scary dream-wolf can harm him there.
Therein lies the answer to all of my questions and critiquing; today my family knew I loved them. I find my peace and shut my eyes, ready to do it all over again in just a few hours time.