10: A Good Night’s Sleep
“Ooh child, Things are gonna get easierOoh child, Things’ll get brighter”
Ooh Child Song by Five Stairsteps
Oh ! Argghh!! Shut Up! Shut UP!! SHUT UP!!! I looked down at my little Penelope. Face red, fist clenched, angry at the world in general and gracing me in particular with her displeasure. I had paced, rocked, cooed, finally I had flown off the handle and screamed. She merely screamed back. I checked again, not wet. I tried the bottle, she turned her head, not hungry.
I tried talking to her. “This can’t be good for you. Crying like this on and on for this long. What is wrong? Please, please tell me, what’s wrong?”
She wasn’t up for an intellectual discussion on the cause of her state. In fact, since she was only five months old, not for much of anything else. I collapsed in a corner. I had been at this for four nights in a row. I desperately needed a good night’s sleep. Hell, at this point I would have settled for a bad night’s sleep, or a cat nap. Any kind of sleep at all would have been welcomed. My feet planted; I rocked my wailing baby side to side.
I could feel tears starting to trickle down my cheeks.
“That’s it.” I thought, “I can’t do this. I am a bad mother. I don’t know the tricks. My child will not thrive and she will end up on those horrible fliers on milk cartons and everyone will say, “Well, you know it’s not her fault. She had a bad mother… ” I felt one sob escape my throat followed by another. I can only imagine the picture I made with my daughter, both of us crying at the top of our lungs. “I’m sorry”, I choked out, “I’m sorry. I wanted to be a good mother.
You deserve a Donna Reed or the mother on Lassie, or my mom. Now, she was a great mom. She would have known what to do. But I don’t. Oh Mom! Why aren’t you here to help me with her? “I Don’t”, I sputtered, I don’t know what to do.” I closed my eyes and listened to my baby hiccupping around her sobs. When I opened my eyes, I saw my daughter’s button nose now red and her flushed cheek felt warm against mine. Tears blurred my vision as I saw my mom’s calm face. I heard my mom say, “She’s teething and uncomfortable, get her something cool.” Too tired to question what had to be a hallucination, I went to the fridge, got a piece of ice and wrapped it in a dish towel. I rubbed her gums gently. Oh my God!! The sobbing dialed back to a fuss, then to a soft coo. I rested my head against hers and listened to the silence.
“Thanks Mom” I whispered holding my daughter, we both slept.
“Mothers: know best even when they are not physically near. Mothers that special knowledge which arrives when one least expect it. I love you tiny, tiny stories, this one is especially wonderful.
Glad you liked my little slice of a story. I was afraid people would think I was “cheating” using “shorties” to catch up.