Lying on my son's bedroom floor, 4:30 this morning. Foam pads and bedspread under me. My star quilt, a gift from those I served on the Cheyenne River Reservation in 2001, bunched up over my core. My cast and my ankle have agreed on a cease-fire for a bit. Jay has rolled over, and backed into me , in a reverse-burrow maneuver. A toddler spoon fully nestled in the bowl of a serving spoon. He fits, at this moment, in this configuration, perfectly from my thighs to just below my chin. I bend to kiss him, carelessly bristling my whiskers on the top of his head. He shakes his head in silent revolt, then grabs my hand and pulls it around him, tucking it below his belly. A sigh, and he resumes his steady, slightly congested breaths. My mind wanders, and in this peace, this ultimate innocent intimacy, the words begin to flow. My muse is in the room, and verse flows like sweet water, musically, freely. Sadly the words would be gone with the morning light. These verses were but a temporary gift, to soften the floor, to relax the arm stretched over his torso, to keep the cast and ankle at peace, for a few more hours. They completed their work, and moved on.
Jay has been waking up nearly every night, usually around 4 am. This is not just "my child gets up too early". He goes back to sleep, and sleeps well until we get up around 6:30. We have pushed back his bedtime, we've done all the usual stuff. It's NOT just him waking up for the day. What tells me so, more than anything, is that this began the week of my surgery. I think that while he has adapted on the outside, playing and eating normally, and has accepted my limitations on the surface, somewhere inside it still bugs him. In the past, he would awaken at night and go back to sleep. Now, it's my belief that he wants to see me, to know that I'm alright. There are no sure answers, but when he sees me, and I hold him, he readily goes back to sleep, but only on the floor, with me beside him.
I'm okay with that. I'm not looking for arm-chair psychologists, I've had too many fights over Ferber-izing, and other book/ internet geniuses that tell us what research says works for everyone. I deal with my son the way I always have. I look at him. I communicate with him. I help him to meet his own needs whenever possible, and provide for those he can't take care of himself. If he needs to feel dad's touch, to see that I'm okay, it's okay. This is a 24-7-365 job.
I find ways to meet my own needs, to take care of myself. Outward Bound staffers always reminded each other, at every departure into the backcountry; "Take care of yourself out there." At 54 years of age, on crutches in the coldest and snowiest winter in many many years, I have no other choice. Burnout is not an option, nor is it imminent.
If Jay wakes again tonight, and he likely will, I will give him a chance to doze back off. We have another snow day coming tomorrow, and I will need a full night's rest to keep up with him. I'll be in bed early tonight. If he persists, as I expect he will, Laura will nudge me (I tend to sleep with my deaf right ear up) and say, "You're being paged." This morning she offered to go to him, but she works long hours, and will be driving in unfriendly highway conditions later today. I want her to sleep. I'll get up, and Jay and I will snuggle each other back to sleep. My muse, with her soft verses, may drop by to see if she is needed.