Powers of Desperation

August 26, 2010 at 8:36 am 1 comment

In the deepest dark of night:

Echo: Mom I don’t want you to turn into a grandma.

Me: Oh?

Echo: ‘Cuz I still want to nurse.

Me: Oh. Well the grandma part happens a long time from now. When you are a grown up and have a baby. And by that time, when you’re nursing your own baby you won’t want to nurse on me.

Echo: Why not?

Me: Because you’ll be an adult and you probably won’t even think of nursing on me.

Echo: But I’ll still want to nurse! Even when I am a grown-up!

Me: Oh? Well if I am a grandma and you are a grown-up and you feel like you still want to nurse we can talk about it then.

Echo: I don’t want to be a grown-up.

Me: Oh?

Echo: Yeah! (sobbing)

Me: Well it’s still a long way away. You just turned three so you’ve really just started. Do you look forward to being a teenager?

Echo: No. I don’t want to get any older than a pre-teen.

And then she stayed awake. From that conversation around three forty-five, until morning. Tossing and turning, falling asleep just long enough for me to relax and fade out, and then she’d wake right back up again. She wanted to nurse again, she wanted to get up, she was afraid of the reflections of the alley light sneaking past the edge of the shades. She wanted something, anything that wasn’t happening already. As the light started to creep into the room my desperation came to a peak and I flung myself to a seated position and bawled my eyes out. Of course, I was soon followed by a sobbing toddler who hung herself on my back crying out her own confused, vicarious grief.

I explained my angst in detail to a sad and sleepy Nathan, and then Echo and I both crumpled back into bed. Further exhausted by our shared outburst she finally fell into a true sleep. It was the kind of sleep that could only be maintained if I did not move a muscle, if I didn’t even breathe. My ear was folded beneath me like a taco and I still did not move, preferring this half-sleep to conversation or rising.

And then it happened again, the next night. Three forty-five until morn. The fear of her mother becoming a grandma and thereby removing the option of nursing was shelved, but fear of the light remained, which upon closer inspection meant fear of the dark. I have very few coping skills in the middle of the night, my patience runs out as sleep knocks at the edges of my consciousness. I feel trapped, even punished by a daughter that won’t let me sleep. In the light of day there is less drama but in the dark of night it feels like the end of the world.

Determined to sleep through until morning Echo and I took a long good look at her fears before closing our eyes the following night. We talked a lot about what light symbolizes, and where shadows originate. We talked about the walls of the room and that they held only she and I in one bed, and her Papa and sister in another. We talked about how safe she is, how well Papa and I look after her, but she was still afraid. At one point she wanted the covers up over her head, and I snuggled her in a warm mummy-like cocoon, but that only resulted in a still fearful but now sweaty child.

That’s when I though of the magic bubble. Our nine-year old calls it the white light, but since dark and light were part and parcel of Echo’s fears I instinctively chose Magic Bubble instead. I used my parental powers to cast a strong, invisible, hovering bubble over my girl that would last her the entire night and protect her from harm. She wanted to know a lot about this new fandangled structure. Could she touch it? Did it fall onto her skin or perch above like an umbrella?She also wanted to know how I came by such powers and I told her I acquired them simply because I believe.

And I did. So desperately. I could see it hovering over us, rainbow swirls catching in the dim light. The air beneath it’s tent sweetened and clear. Perhaps our shared  hope is what made it real. All I know is that it worked.

A solid night’s sleep.

Entry filed under: life lessons, parenting principles. Tags: , , .

Dear Lady at the Coffee Shop Ear Plugs Required

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Joanna  |  August 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    huh, I wonder if the planets are doing something funny? Asa woke up the night before last at 3 am, TERRIFIED that a dead cat was in the room with us. I had to hold him tight, and even that didn’t do the trick, so we had to leave the room, eat a snack, drink some water and then he wanted to sleep in the living room with papa. Last night was ok though. That is so hard, especially at night. I hope you get some rest.


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