– Can you sit with Georgia? She’s been awake for hours and I have to get some sleep.
I scrambled up. For some reason I felt happy to do it. I must have been dreaming.
In the early days, months and years, getting the tots reliably to sleep is an elusive goal, but one of those goals we keep hammering away on. We think there is some way, some place, some trick to doing it so that it sticks. Many times we hoist that congratulatory banner and do a happy dance: Mission Accomplished! But sleep is like all things, like all mysterious forces and fields. It moves in waves with the moon and moods and invisibilities. Sometimes we hit a patch, like now, when the night’s first nod is a short one, and our daughter startles awake to hours of restlessness.
It’s been a while since I was called up for this tour. Georgia prefers her daddy’s consolation at night, probably because I’m not very consoling when I have to work a double shift. Last night I went into her room and, still half-asleep, stunned her by getting under the covers of her slender twin bed. She scooched over and in minutes we were both sleeping. It was the best night of sleep I’ve had in a long time. But was I sleeping? Twisted onto a sliver of the mattress about a foot wide, ears enfolded on one side by a fuzzy dolphin, the other by a plush poodle, lulled by the gurgle of two fish tanks, I dove into a heavy doze in which I kept repeating in a marvel: I’m asleep, I’m asleep, I’m asleep. Surely, then, I was awake?
In the darkness, much later, the dog put her wet nose to mine and I rose to resettle her into the room where I had enclosed her hours before, the door still firmly latched. Perhaps that part was a dream?
Around daybreak, my daughter began to sigh and toss herself awake. We smiled and giggled at each other. It was barely 6 a.m. I told her that I’d had a good night’s sleep.
– I did too! That’s why I always wake up so early! Because I sleep so well!
This she said without any recollection of her hours of sleepless agitation. Perhaps her wakefulness was the dream? I don’t much care. I just give up, so I don’t disturb the dream. It’s the sweetest dream, and if I can keep from pinching myself, it never ends. Never, ever ends.
Photo copyright: Glenn Millington