the sweetest of bedfellows

I fell asleep with difficulty a little before 1 AM. This morning just after 4 my son, in bed next to me, wakes up from a nightmare: “Mama, don’t leave!” He cries and I hold him and tell him I’m here. “I had a dream about that, that happened” he sobs, but soon settles in my arms and is back to sleep.

When Sophie was just walking – about ten months old, she was an early walker – I used to cut grapes in half for her like any other parent does but this morning I was remembering I used to also cut raisins in half. I can see her balancing over to our coffee table to eat them, giving her goofy baby smile with the four new teeth that made it extra important to carefully manage the food she might put in her mouth. My world in those moments revolved around getting the exact perfect thing to her, a tender ritual but one also infused with the deepest sense of responsibility – a constant sense of responsibility. I would give anything for my children and I have given so much, and it is given freely. Yet right now I can’t give them what they want and need which is their father and more importantly, the knowledge that their father won’t leave them. It’s not that I think he will; it’s that I’m so rattled it’s hard to draw a bead on being a good mom and saying the right things. All I can do is not allow myself to fall apart, for at least another few minutes or however long I can manage.

I want to say it would be personally abhorrent for me to write here in criticism of my husband. I am not putting him down or taking a shot at him in any way but trying to convey how absolutely dreadful this is for me, right now. I am trying to be truthful about what is happening in my life – as I’ve always tried to be truthful in this journal.

Once I’m up just after 4 it seems my body has recovered enough that my mind starts working again. This means that for now at least sleep is impossible to recover. Ralph once told me that if you’re up with insomnia, it’s no use trying to fall asleep if you can’t – best to get up to work for a bit and try to settle later. So I do. I get up and do a load of laundry, wash more dishes, and get bread started for the day. At 5 my daughter wakes up to go to the bathroom. She cuddles with me a bit and asks to come to bed. “I want Daddy,” she says. She tucks herself in bed with her head next to me, about eighteen inches away on the computer. And she’s out again.

Today we are looking forward to going out to a nursery to release butterflies. It’s a really silly event – only a fleeting moment, I imagine, in the moments while the butterfly stretches it’s wings and before it takes off to do its business. Outside the dawn sky reveals the typical grey wet-sheet rumpled look but I see a glimmer of sunshine underneath, meaning we may not end up huddling under awnings and trees for our outing today.

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