Having graduated sleep training with a grade A- (well done, but with room for improvement), we rewarded Michael by booting him out of the master bedroom last weekend. We surreptitiously moved all his baby furniture out while my parents distracted the little guy with books as tall as himself.
With his crib gone, I felt a little lost and sad, as if the bedroom next door were really a college dorm far away, and my baby no longer loved me as much as he loved his girlfriend, and only came home for dinner on Sundays if I really nagged him into it, and he would sit at the dining table kind of sullen and whatsapping his friends on his phone and I would ask “So, how’s things?” and he would answer monosyllabically.
But I swiftly forgot my sorrows when it sank in that our bedroom was no longer Camp Newborn. I no longer had to don my infrared goggles and grope my way through the murky glow of an Ikea lamp covered with several towels. (The lamp, not myself.) I could walk in a straight line to the bathroom, instead of having to awkwardly hop over the squeaky floorboards that lie scattered around my room like hidden mines. I could actually use the bathroom. My dressing table was no longer blocked by the crib. The nursing chair was replaced by a computer, and Ralph was sitting in front of it, informing me that Takuya Kimura was acting in a sequel to Hero, and he’d just loaded Part One of the first episode.
Michael’s military occupation was over.
But he’s still in my head. I find myself waking throughout the graveyard hours to listen out for him with my bionic mommy ears – 2am, 4am, 6am. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing earplugs. If he cries, I can hear him through the wall, through the plugs, in my semi-sleep, and I’m able to teleport myself next door in a nanosecond. My body and mind are incapable of shutting down for more than a few hours at one go, and even in sleep I’m like an athlete poised at the start line, arms and legs quivering, ready to leap into action at any moment. It’s a mommy thing. While clearly, the daddy thing is to sleep through everything. Actually, I just think that Ralph has been trained since the early months to sleep through the most heinous cacophony of weird baby noises sans earplugs. As Bon Jovi would say (or sing), he sleeps on a bed of roses, while I’m sleeping on a bed of nails.
There have been a couple of nights where I’ve found myself missing my old bedtime routine: low crawling military-style across my bed to reach the edge of Michael’s crib, and then peering over the bars to observe him cocooned in the soft darkness, his arms wide open, mouth slightly agape, dreaming his little baby dreams of milk, songs, and tree leaves patterning the sky.