Dear darling baby of mine,
It’s three in the morning and I’m not myself. To be fair, you’ve dragged me out of bed at three am, which is officially within the ugly hours of the morning; nothing good ever happens between 2 and 4 am.
Sweetie, I can accept a 1.30am wakeup. At 1.30 in the morning, I can fool myself into thinking I’ve only just barely laid my head on the pillow so it’s no big deal. I still remember what it was like to dance on tables at one in the morning, so I can forgive a 1.30 wake up.
If you demand to see me at 4am I can tell myself you’ve slept through the night but accidentally woke too early. I’ve probably had four hours of sleep in a row, which is a winning effort for any parent; so 4am, while not ideal, is not the worst.
But 3am? It’s the middle of the night you ungrateful little turd, WHY WONT YOU LET ME SLEEP!?
Little one, I love you more than words can say. My love is at its biggest when you’re fast asleep in your bed. Sometimes the love threatens to carry me up the stairs and into your room so I can scoop you up and shower you with kisses. I don’t, of course, because I’m not a halfwit. That’d be like asking Pete Evans to discuss bone broth. Idiocy.
Let’s be honest, I’m not perfect during the day either. I get angry, I yell, I issue threats and ultimatums. Mary Poppins, I am not, but I think we can agree I always manage tread the line of mental stability because, my darling, I can see your face. Your sweet, enchanting, adorable face that makes my heart dance and stops me from leaving you out on the nature strip for the council clean up. Your face saves you every. Single. Day.
The nighttime brings the darkness and in the dark I can’t see your face. Your force field of cute is compromised and all I can see is the white-hot rage of sleep deprivation burning in front of my eyes.
This is not good news for you, small child.
During the day your cries pull at my heart and I run to you for comfort and cuddles*. At night, they sound like the caw of Lucifer.
During the day your head, tucked under my chin, smells of giggles and pinkie promises. At night, when I’m rocking you back to sleep for the second hour in a row, it smells like the decay of my youth.
During the day, your chubby hands on my face feel like the opus of my soul. At night, as you swat at my face and pull at my hair, they feel like gnarled talons of despair.
I’m not proud of the things I’ve said and done in the middle of the night and in the morning, when the guilt sets in and I’m begging your forgiveness, I pray you never remember the time I called you a knob or that other time I said you were embarrassing yourself or when I yelled, “you’re UNSTABLE” in a fit of startling irony.
I’m so sorry, my sweet babe. It’s not your fault. Sort of. I mean, if you just stayed the fuck asleep I might start to act more like a human and less like a creature from the underworld. Seriously sweetheart, it’s really fucking up my already tenuous grasp on patience and civility.
I also blame those arsehole sleep experts who tell me every single thing I do is wrong. They’ve convinced me I coddle you and the effects will be devastating and long lasting. While you scream to be picked up and my arms twitch to hold you, my head is tutting at my weakness and telling me it’s my fault you can’t settle yourself and I need to stop indulging you in the middle of the night so you can learn to sleep.
It’s irrational, this anger. I’m thinking of my lost sleep, I’m thinking of all the other babies out there who know how to sleep, I’m thinking of all the things I’ve done wrong that make you unable to stay asleep. I’m thinking how every scream is a testament to my failure as a mother. I’m also thinking, deep down inside, how hideous I am for not being more comforting or nurturing.
My heart is telling me to calm the fuck down; my brain is telling me that growling at you in the dark certainly isn’t helping; but my frayed nerves have well and truly snapped and they’ve short circuited the whole system. I’m not in control.
Please, my baby, forgive me. When my shushing sounds like hissing and my lullabies sound like death metal, I know not what I do. It’s not me, it’s the night momster. I’ll try harder my sweet. Or, of course, you could always call for Daddy…
* specifically for cries with real tears. If you are whinging because the toaster is not toasting your toast fast enough, I feel far less concerned about your emotional well-being.
Is there a night momster in your house?