It’s 3 a.m., and I’m wide awake, tossing and turning like it’s my own signature dance move, all to the tune of grief and fear. Back and forth I spin on the deep gray sheets that prove there is no thread count that can stop my midnight moves. That tune is just too loud.
The silver lining to my tosses and turns is that I’m already awake when my youngest daughter starts crying from her crib down the hall. I feel wholly unqualified to be her mom, especially now. I want someone a little bit older and a lot bit wiser to emerge from thin air and tell me what to do to best solve both my problems and my daughter’s. But there is no thin air—not tonight anyway. It’s thick with overwhelm I have to wade through to tend to my weeping child.
Typically, I would pick her up and rock her back to sleep while whispering in her ear, “Mommy loves you, Mommy loves you, I do.” Tonight, however, feels different. I yearn to be held and rocked. I know I should be strong and wise, but all I feel is weak and infantile. I want to be with my baby in her distress, and I didn’t want to be alone in mine either.
Instead of picking up my baby girl, I crawl into her crib and lie down next to her. Curled up tight, her head resting beneath my chin, we wipe our tears and slowly find our breath, eventually falling asleep, with no literal space to toss or turn.
I’m grateful to have access to a sweet handful of women who I experience as being incredibly wise and, even better, generous in sharing their wisdom. I wish I could call them to appear out of thin air in my home at 3 a.m. Until this is possible, I’ll continue to tap into them at appropriate times and in appropriate places for guidance on my life’s wild journey.
What this night in the crib taught me, however, is that there’s this small but deepening well of wisdom within me that I get to access at all times, in all places. It’s not a certain birthday or number of silver hairs on my head that suddenly makes me wise. I’m already there and I’m moving towards wisdom, all at once. It’s a dance much subtler than my toss and turn, but it’s happening.
The more I listen to my yearnings and find the courage to respond, the more I benefit from the more sage parts of me.
It is a tiny climb into a tiny crib, but it tends to a childlike part of me that feels afraid and alone. I don’t need or want my daughters to solve my problems, but I am okay with them seeing that I have problems. My baby will never remember the night I crawled into her crib and tearfully held her as we drifted to sleep, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s the wisdom within me that pushed me to quit avoiding, quit pretending, quit dancing, and to just be—scared and sad, but heard and held.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies—she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and their two daughters. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.
Thanks for being vulnerable and telling us about it. God speed on your journey.
Thank you, Mallory. When my first child was an infant, my “mom alarm” was fully set and responsive, and I walked for hours to soothe her. That same alarm was also fully set and responsive when my cancer-ridden mother cried out in the night. I would never have it otherwise. My loved ones were both “heard and held” by the woman God created me to be.