Every morning around 3:30 I wake up. Apparently, some part of me just needs to stare out the window at tree silhouettes until 5 rolls around and it’s almost time to get up. Then my alarm goes off at 5:30, and I’m so wiped out that I have to go through a few snooze cycles before I even know who I am.
Almost every morning around 3:30 one or two of my daughters will appear at my bedside, usually after I’ve already woken up. They hate sleeping on the edge of the bed (scary!) so I scrinch to the side and let them in. Arm around, they’ll say, because they like me to hold them when they fall asleep. With their fear of the edge (scary!) and the wanting to be the one next to mama, the choreography can be impossibly complicated, but generally they are sleepy enough to settle in and fall back asleep even if they aren’t exactly where they want to be.
And then, just as I think to myself, Hey, I feel sorta floaty like I’m actually about to fall asleep! Oh, shit. WAIT! Don’t acknowledge that or you’ll wake up. Think of something restful like your fantasy trip to Mexico in January. Be sleepy, Jen, that is when the kicking begins.
The kicks aren’t usually quick like soccer kicks, they are more like slow, purposeful bulldozer legs. There I am, trying to sleep while defying physics and good sense by occupying a three-inch strip of mattress edge, when a little foot will find my back and start pushing. Even in their sleep, they know where to locate a kidney or tender muscle with their heel. And my girls are like me: on the small side, but mighty as hell. I take the leg and move it, and then reposition myself. I start to drift off, remind myself to not recognize the drifting lest I suddenly become wide awake again (that’s hard work right there), and then, just when I start dreaming about trying to carry several bags and a red cowboy hat while riding a 1970’s ten speed in San Francisco in search of the Howard Johnson’s that is at the intersection of Howard and Johnson (that was this morning’s actual dream, but I left out the part about the swim meet and the foreign exchange students), I will get a foot to the neck. Or the gut, which is worth bonus points to them if I have to pee.
This morning I gave up and got out of bed even though I was hoping to sleep just a little longer. There wasn’t much light in the room, enough to make out their peaceful faces, their heads close together, their hair all mixed up on the pillow (my pillow, which they stole, leaving me with no pillow). It’s not often that I see them still and relaxed, and even though I should be crabby, I can’t help but watch them sleep for a minute. Their breath is matched, inhales and exhales perfectly in unison. Sophie has her hand stretched out, holding onto Willow’s arm, just below the elbow.