The day has been long and difficult. There have been fist fights over toy cars and shouting matches over pop guns. Scuffles over who goes first and whose turn has lasted too long. They’ve insisted on juice, then cried that it wasn’t milk. In short, a day like any other only this one seemed to go on forever.
As I finally crawl beneath the covers and feel the cool sheets begin to warm beneath me, it feels as if I’m sinking by degrees into a gorgeous velvet nothing. Sleep envelopes me like a lover’s arms and I go willingly into that good night with a soft sigh and a smile on my lips.
A cry jackhammers its way into my ears. My sleep fogged brain struggles to clear the mists while my exhausted body fights to hold onto sleep. I send up a fervent prayer that there will be no follow up. It goes unanswered. Another whimper is followed by a muffled sob.
Suddenly, I envision a tangle of sheets, a too plush toy, a pillow pressed too tightly to a tiny face. I throw back my covers knowing I’ll get no sleep until I confirm that all my boys are well. The light on the monitor tells me to angle toward the triplets’ room, and my feet respond automatically.
Despite all my efforts to the contrary, the door hinges scream in protest as I crack open their door and squint to focus in the semi-darkness. A tiny figure sits upright in the center bed, one in a line of three, rubbing his eyes and whimpering pitifully. I tiptoe to his bedside and gingerly examine the covers around him, afraid to discover he’s fallen victim to the same illness his brother’s have suffered in previous days. Finding nothing, I move to examine Will himself.
Carefully running my hands over his head, I am once again amazed at the silky softness of his oh-so-straight hair. I skim past the tiny crescents of his ears, down his slender neck to his shoulders. I brush down his arms, touch his bent knees, then his warm feet and toes. I place one hand on his belly while the other makes circles on his back, wondering what it is that makes a sleepy child so endearing. No boo boos can be found.
With nothing else to offer him, I bend to snuggle him close. He smells of shampoo and toothpaste, apple juice and Flintstone’s vitamins. A heady concoction that I’m sure I could market to empty nesters for a small fortune.
“Choo Choo,” he whimpers.
I turn my head in the direction of his and see that his Thomas the Train pillow has fallen between the bed and the nightstand. I retrieve it, and he immediately drops into the patented toddler sleep position — feet and hands tucked under body, rear end straight up in the air.
I spend more time than necessary arranging his covers and lean in for one last kiss and whispered ‘I love you’ before I retrace my steps to my still-warm bed. As I sink back into sleep, I offer up another quick prayer — one of thanksgiving for this moment. Drifting deeper into the void, I force myself to remain lucid a bit longer. Just long enough to make a promise to myself. I vow to treasure each intrusion like wishes from a genie’s lamp, keeping close the knowledge that each one used means one less to follow. I vow to never pass up a chance for a kiss or a hug, and I swear I will hold their hands wherever we go for as long as they will let me. And last but not least, I promise to remember what it took to get here and how very, very fortunate I am to lose sleep over four such wonderful, healthy boys.
Good night, all!