My standard practice for when my kids come into my room in the middle of the night is to stick my hand over the edge of the bed and pat their head to identify the specific dream intruder. Last night it was Abe (age 4).
"What's up buddy?" I muttered.
"I like you alot."
Oh. Okay. Climb on in.
He fell asleep on my chest, then managed to kick me in the kidneys for a few hours then nuzzle into my neck until morning. But he likes me, so winning.
This gave me a few hours to consider on the blessed and happy state of progress in my life.
When I had my oldest child and she had a hard night, I was prone to shake my fists at the sky screeching "WHY? For the love of all that is Holy, just let me sleep!" I realized I liked sleep alot. More than Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and that speaks volumes. Eventually, however, the night passed, the phase passed, the feeling passed and I was a semi-functional human once again.
Then came baby numero two.
For the first 9 months of his life, he woke up every 2 to 3 hours. I thought this was normal until someone called me after church one day and offered to come take one of my shifts with the baby. The friend explained what clinical sleep-deprivation was and that I might be affected. "Did I say something offensive, off-color, or semi-coherent at church that would give her this impression? (wouldn't be the first time). I really don't have any recollection of that" Her sweet offer of assistance plunged me into at least 45 seconds of introspection. I had to admit that I hadn't had REM for a loooooooooooooong time. I realized I like sleep alot and probably need a little more of it.
Then came the fierce and fiery female of the universe, baby #3.
This is the child when I started to wonder why precisely my sweet husband never, ever, ever contributed to the nighttime routine. Like ever. I would look at him sleeping so peacefully, breathing so fully with all the fluffy pillows and feel a very deep loathing. However, when the baby would fall asleep on my chest, I felt bad for Kent. He was totally missing out on the little moments here all for something that I used to like alot called sleep. I realized I appreciated sleep but I was grateful for other things too. Perspective began to set in.
THEN, came the fourth and final dude. Surprise.
Everything he did was adorable and timeless and wouldn't be there tomorrow. The "Breast-eraunt" was open 24 hours a day, all-you-can-eat for my little one. Whatever baby wants, baby gets. Spoiler alert: We all survived. I realized sleep was important, but humans and connection were my "why".
With my first child my thought was "I got zero sleep, I might die." With my final child my thought was "I got zero sleep, and that's okay." Now I usually have a pillow and blanket laid out on my floor just in case one of them needs to come lay by me at night.
All of this was playing through my sleepy noggin' last night, slow motion Casablanca-style, while Abe tossed and turned in the bed next to me. I slowly became grateful for the "Principle of Growth & Progress." I was able to look back and see quite clearly some of my growth as a human, woman, and mom. I've grown up, chilled out, slept a little and hoped my way through some hard nights and days. I don't think I'm the only human who forgets how far they've grown. Most days we feel stagnant, redundant, and commonplace in the silliest way. When if we actually sit down and take a quick inventory, we recognize how far we've stretched and grown. Just take a moment and recognize that your track record for getting through hard days so far: 100% and that's a pretty incredible stat.
We all have things that we like a lot: mint truffles, open minds, sleep, fair trade- organic-dark chocolate from South America (not that I'm picky), patient hearts, the sound of rain on the metal roof, gut laughter, adventure and the smell of Home Depot. For the rest of my forever, I want to remember the sleepy staggering of Abe entering my room at 3 am. Why you ask? Because he likes me lots. I could cuddle up with reasons like that for eternity.