Every night for two weeks, Little Bear has woken up three times a night, screaming, shrieking, crying over and over for Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.
He’s only recently started calling my name, using his favorite words “Daddy” and “Doggie” up til now. So it’s especially heartbreaking when he starts paging me in the dark of night. I run in there, of course, mommy-senses on high alert, and hold him for a few minutes as he thuds back to sleep, instantly, magically, against my breast. (Ahem. You know what I mean.) He cuddles, safe and warm, as he naps, happy at last to be with his healthy mommy who can come running in to him at night.
I know it isn’t good sleeptime hygiene. I know that we’ve set up this situation where I’m awakened throughout the night. We’ve been working on it — and in fact even letting him cry after I put him back down if he wakes up, or putting him down not-quite-asleep, which is some trick when he falls asleep instantly when I hold him. The first night, he cried for an hour. Then a half hour. The next night, ten minutes. As much as I hate to admit it, it does work.
Still, if he’s awakened by my footsteps in the hall, or his brother’s coughing, or possibly just a night terror in his own consciousness, I run in there, pick him up, hold him, and let him know that I am there.
Because I am here.
I am lucky enough to be here, and to be his Mommy, 17 months after being diagnosed with Stage IIIB cancer.
I want Bear to know that he is safe, and his Mommy is here, and I love him.
And it is a gift and a privilege to be able to comfort him in the night.