It began as a series of little kicks that woke me from my midnight slumber. Soon the kicks were followed by tiny whimpers of discomfort. In a tired haze, I glanced at the clock on my nightstand and the large red letters on the dial read 2:38 a.m. A tiny of flicker of annoyance played on the edge of my mind. Next to me, my husband snored, undisturbed by her movements and cries, like a bear hibernating for winter; his peaceful slumber only added to my irritation. I had gone to bed a mere two hours earlier after spending my evening writing and working out, and my entire body ached with fatigue.
“Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!” my subconscious seemed to chant as I stood up with reluctance and scooped my tiny little girl from the bed.
She wrapped her small arms around my neck, hugging me close. Her tiny head burrowed into my chest as she attempted to hide her face from the light and her body from the pain she was obviously experiencing.
On her changing table in the adjacent room, I left her without a diaper for a few minutes, rubbed her tummy, and bicycled her legs as the tears continued to poured down her face. Her blue eyes looked at me in innocently, begging me to fix her discomfort. In her mind, the word mother (or “mum”) is synonymous with superwoman, which is probably why it is the only word that she says with regularity at nine-months-old; she doesn’t see the importance of any of the others.
Finally, I sat her up to talk to her about whether it was her tummy or her teeth that were bothering her, although I knew it would do no good. As I spoke, she reached out her small hand and gently touched my face, a request to be held; and I felt my annoyance begin to recede away like the fading darkness.
It is a small thing for me, really, to spend this night rubbing her back and rocking her; but in this moment, it is everything to her.
When my condition had deteriorated during my pregnancy and I had begun to worry about losing her, I used to whisper promises into the night. I would have happily sacrifice my body and a bit of my soul to bring her into the world, and when the time came, I did. No price was too great for the privilege of holding her in my arms.
Tonight, I whispered new promises as she dozed intermittently in my arms: “When you are tired, I will rock you without reservation or resentment. When you cry, I will hold you without hesitation or hostility. When you are hurt, I will comfort you without dawdling or delay. When you need me now and in the future, I will find you. I am your mother.”