The children are in bed and I sit in the dark, listening to their breathing, slow and regular. It’s 9.15pm but it feels like midnight.
Overhead, the ceiling fan whizzes at top speed. We’re also using the wall vent tonight because everyone has crammed into our bedroom and we need as much air as possible. It’s Labour Day tomorrow and kids get to crash here on weekends and public holidays. They look forward to that so much.
The big bed is surrounded by three mattresses, one on each side. When I walk to the bathroom I have to make sure I don’t step on an arm or a leg.
But I don’t mind. Not now.
The sounds of the night float in through the open window – crickets in the garden and some distant traffic, almost imperceptible.
I rest against the pillows, inhale deeply and look for a long time at the velvety purple night sky. Tonight nobody’s working late in the office block across the street and there aren’t any lights to spoil the view. The darkened form of the trees create a lovely jagged border just outside the window and make me feel I could touch them if only I tried.
My shirt hangs loose. It’s well worn, having survived two pregnancies and has a faint smell of milk. My hair’s still wet and straggly after a shower, one of those quick as lightning ones because Roo couldn’t wait much longer for bed.
But I don’t mind. Not now.
Before I can slip out of the room, Roo wakes and wants to nurse. I settle next to her in the big bed and we cuddle, close. She’s teething and I know she’ll wake more often these days and want to nurse for comfort.
I recall the time when I was a new mama and frequent night-wakings were as perplexing as they were frustrating. Now, I know about babies needing to cluster feed so I’ve given up trying to leave the room for as long as Roo needs to nurse. Now, I lie down and nurse her for what must be the fourth time in two hours and read my Bible on YouVersion. And when I finish, I’ll write on my phone. Or just sleep, knowing the next night-waking will come again soon.
I don’t mind. Not now.
Now, my heart is full of thankfulness. I meditate on our blessings, lying asleep peacefully all around me, wanting to be near me. The moments that I feel like shaking them off for all their many requests and prolonged boisterous play seem so far away.
Now, I just want to hold each one as close as I can and never let go. The unfolded laundry can wait until after midnight when I’ll creep out to finish my work or be left for tomorrow when I have more energy.
Roo stirs, grabs my finger as she nurses and holds on tight. I reflect on the joy and laughter of the day, on the occasional grumblings but the more frequent, happy chatter of news exchanges and general conversation.
I think of Tuesday this week, Roo’s first excursion to the neighborhood park in the evening with her three siblings.
Then further back to giggly, tender moments at home, captured on my phone camera and repeated in a myriad of ways every day.
I recall the evening we brought Roo home from the hospital, when the kids came home from a long day out with their aunt and crept quietly into this same room to meet their new baby sister for the very first time.
The exultation, the sheer happiness.
The waiting to become a family of six.
Roo unlatches, turns her head and goes back to sleep. I come back to the present and roll away a little to look at her. I marvel again at the newness of life. I think of beginnings, the excitement of fresh discoveries and growing-up milestones. I think of infinite God-filled resources that help me to love and to be patient, more than today. That help me to accept Jesus’ forgiveness for my failings and to be contented to wait, especially in seasons like this.
Soon, I’ll step out and head downstairs to fix the hunger and thirst that invariably comes after nursing.
But I’m in no hurry. Not now.
Now, I’ll sit here a little while longer and just enjoy the night, the quiet, and the joys that four children bring.
Puppy: 8yo; Lamb: 5.9yo; Piglet: 3.4yo; Roo: 4mos.