It's the middle of the night and I'm enjoying that phase of deep, dreamless sleep that's only achieved long after the stresses of the day are left behind.
Suddenly I'm awakened by a little voice whispering, "Momma?" Still half asleep, I fumble in the dark for my glasses and check the clock. It's 3 a.m. I hold my breath, hoping for silence from the room below.
"Momma?" the voice says again, louder this time.
Sighing quietly, I switch off the child monitor beside my bed and head down the stairs. Before I reach the door of my son's room, he's shouting "Momma!"
Fully awake now, I open the door to his room, tuck him under the covers again and shush him back to dreamland. With no idea as to what woke him in the first place, there's really nothing else for me to do.
I head back up the stairs and climb into bed beside my slumbering husband. Why don't two-year-olds call for their daddies when they wake up in the night? Maybe it's because they know fathers will pretend not to hear them a lot longer than mothers?
Although my son doesn't wake up through the night every night, it does happen. Keeping one ear open in case he needs to be comforted has become second nature, but it's meant an end to sleeping through the night for me. Since the day we brought him home, I've awakened numerous times each night, straining my ears and wondering if the noise I just heard was the whimper of a child or the snore of a dog.
Lots of parents are in a similar boat I'm sure, and unlike our little ones, we don't have the luxury of an afternoon nap to catch up on our rest. Numerous studies have shown that in order to be at our best, seven to nine hours of sleep per night is required. No problem there, it's uninterrupted sleep that most of us are seeking.
I asked my own mother recently when a parent can expect to rest easier. Her answer? After the kids have moved out. Until then, you're on edge listening for a baby who might be hungry, a toddler having a nightmare, a pre-teen sneaking out of bed to watch TV, or an adolescent who's missed his curfew. Great, sounds like things only get better from here!
Since it appears my night wakenings won't be ending anytime soon, I think I need to adopt a coping mechanism. If I have to lay awake for an hour or so after getting out of bed to check on our child, my significant other should be awake, too. That way we can keep each other company until I can nod off again.
I wonder how that suggestion will go over? I'll keep you posted.