I woke up at 11:30 last night (after having been asleep for only about 40 minutes) with the vague feeling that something wasn't right. Then I saw light coming from the kitchen and went in to find my toddler standing and staring into a brightly lit, open refrigerator. I don't know what she was looking for, but she settled for milk.
I spent the next two and a half hours waiting for her to fall back asleep.
These nights are few and far between, but they never fail to infuriate and exhaust me. I could not understand what would be running through her head to keep her from falling asleep. I dozed off at least a dozen times in the first hour, while she stared at the ceiling, wide awake. She did fall asleep a couple of times, but then she woke up shrieking in terror a few minutes later. It seemed that she was afraid to fall asleep.
Lest I excite her more, I could do nothing about this but lay there and fume. My mind kept repeating a mantra of "Please, please, please God, please, please, please help her fall asleep." I kept counting the hours I had left to sleep before I had to get up and greet Addie and face the day with two toddlers (one of whom would likely be throwing tantrums all morning because she didn't sleep well, ahem). As the clock ticked, I got more and more frustrated and upset about being trapped while my precious sleep hours slipped away.
And then something occurred to me. Two things, actually. It must have been a bit of Grace, a little glimpse from the Holy Spirit.
First, I realized that Olivia wasn't trying to be difficult. She was lying still and trying to get sleepy. She knew it was time to be asleep. But she was dealing with some sort of terror in her mind that I didn't understand, and my job as Mom was to be her calming presence until she could fall asleep and stay asleep.
Second, I realized that caring for a newborn was and will be a much greater disruption to my sleep than Olivia's occasional sleeping difficulties.
So, the next time I have to lay awake while Olivia tries to go back to sleep (and please, God, don't let it be soon), I will try to remember these things and be thankful for the fact that we usually all sleep very well, and also thankful that I have a toddler who finds me to be her greatest comfort in the night.
And now I'm going to go take a nap.