It is around 1:00 AMwhen I head off to bed, working late on Valentines for the kids. Silly notes and little treats to put into their "mail boxes". It is my goal to bribe them with sugar often enough that they not remember that I was "da mean mama" that made them pick up dog poo. I definaltely think its working. Maybe.
I wearily waddle to my room (yes, at night I waddle. It's easier than bending my knees) and find my side of the bed occupied by a little person. Correction. A not-so-little-anymore person. He is practicing his famous Diagonal Rib Crusher, a sleep circus-manuver that falls somewhere between a cartwheel and a high speed yoga move. I am too tired to lug his rag-doll bod to his little bed nearby, so I spin him around and skootch him over close to Guy. Alas, as soon as my head hits the pillow, Jonah-boy slides right back, wraps his chubby, cool arms around my neck and mumbles "mama". I let his cheek stay right where it lands on mine, and smootch his squishy face, then I nudge him down a little and tuck his head under my chin. He nestles into my side and sighs contentedly. I lay there listening to him breathe and smelling his hair. The sounds of the house meld into a steady drone. The slosh of the dishwasher, the hum of the faraway dryer, the faint squeek of a hamster wheel. Guy's deep slow breathing is echoed in doubletime by the light wispy breaths of Jonah. It is the nightly song of our sleepy house. I shut my eyes.
A thump in my belly calls my attention and coaxes a smile from me, but before my hand can reach to feel the spot, the thumping stops. A trickle of chilly air sneeks between the frames of our tired old windows, and I burrow down into the covers and finally begin to drift off...
My eyes pop open at the familiar thud of heals hitting the hardwood floor. I wait, and the footfalls soon tell me it is Tessa; partly because of how faint and quick they are, partly because there is suddlenly a running sound into the livingroom. I slide The Acrobat off of my arm, flop my big-ol' self off the side of the bed and head out to find The Sleepwalker. She is standing in the kitchen. She starts telling me about a bunny on the floor that only she can see as I take her by the shoulders and guide her into the bathroom. When she is done, the dull blur in her eyes disappears and in a moment she hugs me sweetly and says "nigh-night", heading back out to the livingroom. I spin her around like they do in cartoons and give her a nudge down the hall toward her room. Back in my room, I bump my shin on a laundry basket in the dark. I begin to lay down only to find a diagonal Jonah cris-crossing my pillow. The 3 seconds it takes to get my spot back makes my tired head feel so heavy. I slump under the blankets.
Before I have time to take Jonah's feet back off of my hip for the second time, I hear a big thump on the floor. This time there is the jingle of a dog collar along with big boy footsteps, and Adam's bedroom door opens. The toilet soon flushes and then I hear the sink turn on. I smile in the dark over a boy who washes his hands in the middle of the night. Good job, Addy, I whisper.
I hear a train, and a confused little bird calling all alone. In the other room, Toby falls off the bed with a kerplunk that shakes the floor. Jonah's breath scudders. Guy coughs a little. My heart burn kicks in and I grab for the chalky tablets by the bedside. Ellie murmers in her sleep. The baby thumps around, reminding me of my low bladder capacity. I smack my shin again on my way to the bathroom.
Back to bed,
heart pounding in my ears.
Heater clicks on.
Jonah throws his leg over me.
I leave it this time.
The bird again.
In the still of the night.