I awoke at 4:30am in a panic but no assignable cause. I hadn’t had a nightmare. The alarm had yet to ring. Sounds of peaceful slumber permeated the house. Why was I awake?My mind began to roam accelerating to a race.
My first instinct was to climb in bed with one of my children. My imagination recalled countless movie and television scenarios where a mom climbs in bed to cuddle her child and finds herself gently drifting off to slumber. History talked me out of attempting to bring this bit of celluloid into reality. My children do not relax into a snuggle. They roll and kick and squirm, their bodies making it known that a stranger has invaded the bed. I would only succeed in waking them. As much as I longed to be near them, I was too tired to deal with boy energy before the sun had even begun to shine. Also, it felt needy, bordering on creepy. We are not those people. We enjoy our own sleeping spaces. Usually, that is.
I remained in my bed and tried to exorcise the racing thoughts, first controlling my breathing before reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I haven’t called myself a Christian for some time, but the prayer is like a talisman warding off evil thoughts to make way for dreams. It’s a habit I formed as a child, and in times of urgency, can’t seem to shake.
I rolled on my right side, and tucked a pillow between my knees. My legs were restless and I flipped over to try the left. When that position failed, I lay on my back, eyes closed then staring at the ceiling. I tossed all pillows off the bed, rolled onto my stomach with my fingertips resting on my throat to feel my heartbeat. This final position is my “I’ve given up, I have to sleep” maneuver. It brought no luck.
My thoughts, though accelerating to top speed, began to hone in on a topic- my kids. In particular, everything I’m doing wrong with these kids. Kellen is going to Kindergarten. Do I force him to wear “day clothes” on the first day of school, setting the precedent that going to big boy school requires big boy clothes? Or do I let him wear his pajamas, as he has done nearly every day of the last year? He will have to learn to dress appropriately at some point, but when is that exactly?
Will he be upset that I’m not there to pick him up after the first day of school? I have a new job, my first since becoming a mom. He’ll be going to the kid’s club. That should be fun. Right? It’s only for an hour. But will that be soon enough? Will it be ok because he won’t know any different? Liam will know different. Liam has had two years of school days with Mommy meeting him at the gate. Will he feel like I’ve abandoned him?
Liam had TWO years with me picking him up every day after school, volunteering in his classroom, being at every school party. Am I being unfair to Kellen? Yes, yes I am. I’m only going to be working four days a week. I’m just going to have to make it in to volunteer on my day off. There is no getting around it. I’m just going to have to do it.
But what if that’s not enough? What about the Kindergarten Mother’s Day Tea? That was held on a Friday when Liam was in Kindergarten. Nearly every other child’s mother was there. What if Kellen is the only kid without his mom in attendance? It will be ok. Granny can go. Or Lala. She’s like a second mother to him. He will have someone there.
But it won’t be his mom. That’s it. I’m just going to have to make sure and be a great employee. Yes, I’ll be new on the job. But I’ll make sure to never call in sick, never have to miss, always be on time, so that when Mother’s Day comes, I can request an hour to be at the tea. Yes, that’ll work. Except I am the mom of two little kids, and I’m going to be working in a preschool. Someone is bound to get sick, probably a lot. I don’t even know how many times the kids were home sick last year. Ten? More? What is the sick policy at this job going to be?
God, I’m so worried about Kellen. What about Liam? Liam seems so easy going, so independent. What if I’m taking that for granted and I’m neglecting him? Perhaps internally he’s really longing for attention, but doesn’t think he can ask. Ok, tomorrow, I’m going to make some special time for Liam. And when it comes time for bed, I’m going to stay in bed with him and read for as long as he wants, even if it means I get no time to myself in the evening. It’ll be worth it. These are my kids, I have to take care of them.
But Liam seems alright. Kellen is the one who has been having outbursts, who starts crying when the slightest thing goes wrong. I probably need to spend more time with Kellen. I need to help him learn appropriate emotional responses and how to work through problems. If I don’t model it now, how will he ever learn? God, what if what I’m modeling isn’t appropriate behavior? How do I know? What if what I’m doing is all wrong?
Ok, I gotta stop this. I have to get some sleep.
Oh, hi Kellen. Yeah, I’m awake. I’ll get it up with you. What do you want to do today?