More than just a mother has written a beautiful post about what it means to be a parent. She has described the joy of being a parent perfectly. But there is an alternate version to her morning love story...
Thanks to More than for the inspiration (you might want to read her version first).
Thud. Thud thud thud thud thud. Small penguin-like footsteps make their way ever closer. Then a tentative creek of a floorboard as our three year old son waits at the entrance to our bedroom. Heavy breathing breaks the silence. He stands there, perfectly still. Reaching some conclusion in his mind, he decides to venture into the darkness where I lie, edged out of sleep into a half awake state of alertness.
He fumbles with his tiny nightlight that he carries in his hands, crammed with two teddies, a stuffed monkey and its partner in crime, a blue cow. The light casts a dull glow on the bedroom wall, as he attempts to quietly step his way over piles of discarded clothes littering the floor, edging ever closer to our bed.
I hold my breathe. It's decision time. Is he going to head left towards my husband's side of the bed or veer right and come to me? It's always me. On the rare occasion my husband has been roused from his slumber, he will whisper to our son to come to him. He will easily wrap our small boy in his arms so that he's lying tucked into his armpit, snug and cosy.
But today is not one of those days. Today the small stealth terrorist sneaks towards me before shining the night light directly into my eyes and pronouncing: 'I'm thirsty mummy.'
I fumble for my water glass and give him a sip. Then in an inelegant dance involving several knees and other hard bony bits, he hoists himself up and over me so that he can lie spreadeagled in the bed. My husband grunts and rolls over.
'Cuddle me mummy,' he whispers in a voice mere decibels away from a shout. I wrap my arm around him and snuggle him into me. It's a wonderful oneness, warmth, a reminder of the tiny baby he once was. Contented I shut my eyes...
One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi .... and the snuggle ends with a pointy elbow rammed into my nose and another full volume stage whisper of: 'I want to get up and have milk mummy.'
'Atsigsoclock,' I mumble, desperately clinging to the last few strands of sleep that are keeping me anchored to semi-consciousness. 'NO, NOW!' he whispers emphatically. 'Firstsnuggle,' I say attempting to regain the loveliness of the few seconds of closeness.
He lies supine for another half minute. Then performs the crocodile death roll, grabbing the duvet and attempting to roll himself and me up in it. I push him back into the space between my husband and I, pleading: 'Lie still'. He does. For ten seconds. Then he rides his imaginary bicycle under the covers, scraping his toenails up and down the length of my leg. I ignore it until I feel he might gouge a varicose vein, so grab his leg and hold it still.
Restrained he has a momentary lapse of energy allowing me just time enough to drift off towards slumberville...
GAH! My eye is prised open and the night light shone directly into my fully dilated pupil. I'm awake. I don't want to be. 'Turn...the...light...off," I stage whisper through clenched teeth. 'But I'm thirsty and hungry and I want to go downstairs,' he wails. 'It is six o clock!'
I lift my head wearily off the pillow and glance at the clock. 5.47 the red numbers glow with evil malevolence. 'Thirteen more minutes,' I say and turn my back on him in the vain hope that it will make me invisible to him.
It doesn't. The teddies, the monkey and the cow decide that my head is the best place for them to have a tea party. I move further away so that I'm lying on a knife edge, where the mattress ends and the cold winter air starts. I balance precariously, every muscle taught. Sleep scurries away. Adrenalin has taken its place.
I am kicked, jostled, poked, prodded, nagged and scraped for a further three minutes of agony until I give up the fight.
I sigh. One of those sighs that starts at your toes and works its way up so that your chest swells to maximum capacity before exhaling a night's worth of carbon dioxide. 'C'mon then,' I say fumbling about on the floor for my slippers.
'Use my night light mummy,' the devil child kindly offers, chipper and full of beans now that he's started the day.
'Thank you,' I say. And I finally understand what it means to be a parent.