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    The Longest Night

    06.12.2017 / FAMILY

    2am, the alarm rings.

    When you’ve got yourself a baby with boundless energy and a little girl with endless questions, 2am is sometimes your magic hour of silence, of writing, of work. While the two littles are tucked safely in their beds, I pad into the dining room for cinnamon tea and words.

    It is, unapologetically, my favorite part of the morning.

    But not this morning.

    This morning, the baby is wide awake. (Wide.)

    I warm a bottle. I change a diaper. I adjust his socks, stroke his forehead, offer a pacifier. I rock and rock and rock, and I think he’s fallen asleep until his small hand creeps up to my mouth and he wiggles his fingers past my teeth. Baby laughter. Happy kicks. Vague chatter.

    Awake.

    And so, we play on the living room floor and I resist the temptation to quietly stew over the hours I’m missing, the emails in need of sending, the paragraphs I so badly want to write – the ones I know will leave me by sunrise. We race cars. We read books. We stack blocks, peek-a-boo. I wait for an eye rub or fussiness, some sort of sign that he’s tiring.

    Nothing.

    We practice walking, make wide loops around the kitchen island. We play airplane. I offer teething tablets. We roll the ball back and forth, back and forth, and I take breaks to peek at the clock.

    4am.

    Surely he’s tired by now, I think, and I warm another bottle, change another diaper, rock and rock and rock and rock, and his small, dimpled hand has found his way to my mouth – again – and he’s a fit of giggles.

    I am not.

    Back to the living room, only this time, my patience is far thinner. I watch as he plays with cabinet doors in the dark – open/shut, open/shut – I wait for him to tire. I make mental lists, form email responses in my brain. I refill my tea, calculating how much time I have until Bee wakes for the day, too.

    It is 5am.

    I hear the birds chirping outside and scoop him up for some fresh air. We see the last of the night stars begin to fade and I cradle his head as his eyelashes rise to watch the black sky grow brighter. We hear blue jays and locusts, a pine warbler far away. It sounds like magic.

    But I am thinking of my lists, and I begin rocking and swaying and bouncing, praying he will sleep so I can start my work day, or at least what’s left of it.

    And that’s right when I hear it, that still voice within that reminds me of what I’ve forgotten:

    This is your work.

    The comforting of a baby, the forgoing of my needs.

    This is your work.

    The peeling of the apples, the detangling of the hair, the remembering of the sunscreen.

    This is your work.

    The kissing of the scrapes, the biting of the tongue, the pumping of the bike tire.

    This is your work.

    The buyer of the sneakers, the folder of the whites.

    This is your work.

    The raising of the souls.

    And I begin to repeat it, almost mantra-like. Over and over, surrendering to the idea that if nothing is finished (nor started) for the day, if my emails go unchecked and unanswered, if I write nothing, if I claim zero productivity, I will have accomplished much.

    I will have done my work.

    The idea settles into my mind and I feel a familiar weight on my chest as Scout’s head lowers to my heartbeat. The sun is rising; his eyelids are closing.

    Sleep.

    He has surrendered, finally.

    As have I.

     

     

    • Agnes

      I love this.

    • Cara

      Oh, Erin! I love this post so much. “This is your work” on repeat – the most beautiful reminder – from this moment forward. Thank you x

    • Oh my goodness Erin I needed this. I’m expecting my first little one in December and going back to work after is already on my mind. Thank you, thank you. This will be my mantra too.

      • Oh, I hear you. Congratulations, Bonnie!!! :) What a lucky little one.

    • Amber Stefanski

      Thank you! I needed this today. It will be more than my mantra, it will be my prayer!

    • Alanna

      I love this. I read it while rocking my 13 day old little girl to sleep. I also have 5 and 6 year old boys, so this rocking a new baby for hours thing has been a relearning process. It’s so nice to remember that this is this (comparatively short) season’s real work– not the laundry or the dishes or etc., etc. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

      • Oh I can so so so relate, Alanna! :) Congrats on your new addition! :)

    • Melony

      Beautiful ❤

    • Jamie

      My mantra was always “this is the life you chose to create” when I was in that place of providing for everyone but myself, and trying not to dwell on the things I wasn’t getting done. A gentle reminder that “this (too) is your work” will be looping now, too. hugs!

      • I LOVE that mantra, Jamie. Oh my gosh. Thank you for sharing that; I’m adding it to my mental tool kit right this second :)

        • Jamie

          Ashley, that mantra made SUCH a difference for me as a harried new mom, and still does! I’m so glad it resonates with you too. = )

      • That is a LOVELY mantra, Jamie!

    • Nadia

      Love this!

    • Oh Erin this is beautiful and so true!! I am having a baby in August and wondering how I will keep up with all my work with a 7 year old and 4 year old but, this new baby will be my work, and how quickly babies grow right? Sometimes it seems so slow but then poof, they become big!

      • You’re so right, Reem! And congratulations to you!!!!!!! :)

    • Kelsey

      I am in love with this. Surrendering can be so difficult for us, and once we allow it to happen, we know it was the right decision, the right action.

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