I find myself awake in the middle of the night more often than I would like. A list of worries, instead of sheep, jump across my bed taunting me. I count them… three, four, five, unable to return to my sleep. Sean, breathing heavily next to me, sleeps unbothered by my thoughts. In the morning I might tell him about the things that keep me up, but for now, I let him carry on in peace. There is nothing he can do for my paranoia anyway. The dark of night always has a way of exaggerating my fears, this much I know. But, I also know that I am not the only mother awake at this hour, concerned about the things we cannot control, and I take comfort in this stage passing eventually.
I found a list in my phone the other day, made from one of my adventures in insomnia. It was called, “Things You Should Remember” and it read things like,
“Remember there are corners all over the earth worth visiting and that the obvious paths are not always the true attraction.
Be kind. Be bold.
Remember that other’s negativity is not a reflection of you, but of them.”
It must have been hastily written because there were capitalizations on words there ought not to have been and many other strange errors. I reread the list, wondering what anxieties I must have felt that night, but in the afternoon sunshine I could not retrieve them. It was obvious, however, that in the darkened hour June was my concern.
Last week my friend offered to take some fall portraits of June, so we went down to a trail not far from our home. The river sat quietly in the backdrop as June danced wildly along its shore. I know that I have nothing to worry about with this little girl. She is stronger now than some adults I know. Proud and willing to explore the world, there is nothing she won’t try. “No, mama” or “k, mama,” she tells me, still too stubborn to respond “yes”. I appreciate her determination as much as it challenges me.
Selfishly, the thing I want her to remember most is me. If I’m honest, most nights, this is what keeps me awake: the fear that she might forget these days with me. But I am determined to let her grow and explore bravely on her own. I know that age will bring comfort to my fears. And when she is older, I will tell her that mothers are the rivers quietly flowing beside their daughters. Maybe then, when she looks at me and understands, I will sleep again.