Last night we half woke past midnight to the rain lashing against our windows, a gale rattling the frames. We latched the windows tight with one hand, pulled back the curtains with another, and fell back asleep to dreams of New Years Eve and fireworks lighting the city skyline and peacocks and the soft dark warmth of bed. While the rain pounded on our windows, the last of the city’s firecrackers boomed beneath our building.
In morning I always wake in the dark, never sure if it’s 4 am or 6. The night sky is still an inky black when I creep downstairs to squeeze in a predawn workout in a living room lit only by Christmas lights. I always hope the baby doesn’t wake up, pray that she gives me until at least 7:30. She beams when I walk into her bedroom and wiggles her arms to accompany squeals of delight before pulling the blanket up to cover her mouth in half-coy baby play. Her eyes are always at their most beautiful the moment she wakes up and I walk over to her crib. But, at the same time – I want my hour of morning.
Motherhood is always a struggle, between loving your baby – cherishing those smiles and cheeks and soft fluttery lashes, wanting to provide them with the best experience possible, endow them with a sense of the wonder in the world – and trying to stake some time for yourself. Exercise, sleep, the chance to actually read a book without illustrations or tear-proof pages, a glass of wine with my husband. Sometimes I feel like I’m forever wishing her to sleep, so I could just finish one more thing (or take a shower, or dinner prep without feeling like she must be bored watching me from her key lime perch (aka high chair) in the corner of the kitchen). Oftentimes I wish she wouldn’t fall asleep so quickly, for there are still a million things unaccomplished in the day – exercises we didn’t finish, songs we didn’t sing, books we didn’t read, new areas of the world we didn’t yet explore. Being a mother is a paradox – living both inside yourself and as something cooperative, the balancing act of working in tandem with another person (who is so dependent on you, and yet, at the same time, so very determined and independent-minded). It is always a dance, one that often sees us stumble or shuffle with two left feet or just try to get through the motions with coffee in one hand and wine in the other (both in moderation…). Every day I see my daughter growing – her [very vocal] protests if I leave the room, her annoyance and despair when she flings the kitchen whisk from her highchair tray, the way her bright eyes become twinkling triangles when she opens her mouth for shrieking giggles of delight every time I blow kisses at her, the calm almond sliver of her eyelids above the pale pink of her cheeks in that moment she falls to sleep, the mix of emotions that splay cross her face when she reaches for my coffee cup.