Little sleepy boy
Do you know what time it is?
Well the hour ol your bedtime’s
Long been past
And though I know you’re fighting it
I can tell when you rub your eyes
You’re fading fast
Won’t you run come see St. Judy’s Comet
Roll across the skies
And leave a spray of diamonds
In its wake
I long to see St. Judy’s Comet
Sparkle in your eyes
When you awake
-Paul Simon, St. Judy’s Comet
Leo is going through a “moon” phase. He loves to point out the faded moon against the blue sky in daylight (since he is rarely out at night to see it in action). “Moooon!” he declares, like a ship captain catching sight of land. Sometimes my eyes aren’t sharp enough to see everything he sees. “No sweetie, that’s not the moon, that’s just…oh wait, it is the moon.” Doh, mom. His perceptiveness amazes me. His books are filled with moons, too: full and crescent, lurking on more pages than you ever knew. And his current favorite book? Goodnight Moon, of course. Had to read it at least 10 times last night. Goodnight nobody.
So we bought him a moon night light from IKEA, thinking it might comfort him when he woke up at night and give him an incentive to stay in his room. No such luck, though. Leo always wakes up crying, always has. And lately, he cries (read: screams) himself to sleep, even while being rocked lovingly with a bottle in his mom or dad’s arms. I am often wracked by guilt and frustration, wondering what is wrong, what can be done. I usually can’t stomach these emotions, so I have Paul hold him, and I distract myself with Facebook or the like until he’s finally settled. Another bedtime accomplished. But I still feel icky, sad that he has cried so much, and anxious about the uncertain night in front of us. I can’t unwind. Besides, by then it’s usually 10 pm or so and I need to sleep myself. Ick.
It’s always been so hard to make sense of these hellish (and I don’t use that word lightly) nights. Because during the day, occasional tantrum aside, Leo is very happy: sweet and affectionate, full of life and energy, hugs and kisses. This is such an awesome age because he’s starting to interact more with other children. He greets his cousin with a squeal and a hyper-excited “hiiiiii!” He marches right up to kids at the playground, looks them in the eye and speaks to them carefully (even if they clearly don’t understand him). I love listening to him babble on repetitively about the moon, airplanes, pasta, anything. Gosh, even thinking about him now, as I write this while I’m away from him, my heart aches a tiny bit. When I step out of our apartment, where I’ve left him for the day, everything suddenly feels empty and mechanical. Dare I say, he’s the sunshine of my life. And when he wakes up in the morning, kisses me and says sweetly , “hi mama!” I experience what can only be described as partial amnesia about the previous night’s antics.
I know that it is a universal experience for parents, even if the specific issues differ. Jekyll and Hyde, heaven and hell, night and day–all in the same 24 hours. Heck, all in the same hour.
Because the truth is that in motherhood, especially in new motherhood (can I still claim to be a newbie?), you become more immersed in this darker, more feminine side of life. The moon side, that is– in a world centered around the sunny, masculine side. The line between night and day becomes blurred. The moon, which Leo notices, is still visible in daylight. All of those wakings at night, lit by the moon and the stars! All of that struggle and need to embrace the changes and negative emotions. A subtler, less overtly ambitious daily routine. The necessity of letting go, and allowing the the tide to pull you in and out. And part of the secret to not going crazy is taking comfort in the moonlight, the beauty that shines through the darkest moments, because of those moments. Sure, having to rock my screaming toddler to sleep and hold him several times a night is stressful and exhausting, often bringing me to tears. But sometimes I realize…there I am, holding him, looking at his perfect face…his lips puckered like a rosebud, his slightly sweaty hair, smelling half like powder and half like wet dog, his chubby hand resting gently on my chest. Music playing softly in the background, fan spinning a rare breeze, low light casting the room aglow.
Leo may not take comfort in the moon yet, but I do.
Even when it’s plastic and designed in Sweden.