While you were sleeping

I love to watch my children sleep.

After the battles of the will, the chaos of creativity, the pushing and pulling and learning and laughing, the discipline and the nurture, the tantrums and the tears; I love to watch them crumpled in sleepy surrender. Chaos at rest. Tantrums forgotten.

In those stolen moments, with the crack of light from the hallway spilling into the darkened room, I marvel at them. My heart squeezes with protective longing. I feel the fullness of tender care, the delight in their little bodies. I see limbs splayed and fingers uncurled. The feisty fury of the day gives way to frailty and sweetness.

They have no idea how much we love them, and even less idea how much that love allows us to weather their defiance and dependence. They still live in a world where they think cupboards magically restock themselves and laundry fairies find their missing socks.

When they are awake, we are all energy and independence – five people doing the dance of life around each other, giving and taking and talking and being. But when they sleep, the true nature of things is revealed: children being raised, nurtured, protected, sheltered by us. Dependent on us, though they are only dimly aware of it. Adored by us, though they have no idea how much.

Sometimes, as I lie on my pillow about to yield to sleep myself, I imagine God watching me sleep. I imagine him looking on me after a day filled with my pushing and pulling and learning and laughing, after my own tantrums and tears, now crumpled in sleepy surrender.

I imagine his heart filled with tenderness, seeing my true frailty after my feisty fury is spent. He sees my defiance. He knows my dependence. He knows I live in a world where I am only vaguely aware of all He does to sustain and provide.

During the day, I imagine it’s all me, all the time. But at night, I am a sleeping child; His child being raised, nurtured, protected, sheltered by Him.

Dependent on him, though I am only dimly aware of it. Adored by him, though I have no idea how much.

And so, in the half light of my room, just before my eyes finally close, I smile up to my Daddy. He watches while I am sleeping.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. (Psalm 121:4)

Father-like He tends and spares us, well our feeble frame he knows (From the Hymn “Praise my Soul, the King of Heaven”, based on Psalm 103)

This post first appeared on 8/19/2013 on the Mothers Council mommy blog.

Sleep equity

Being mad that he got more sleep  than

I don’t feel particularly strongly about the division of labor in our home. As it turns out, he goes to work and makes computers do his every bidding, while I do all the shopping, bill paying, cleaning, correspondence, laundry, as well as most of the cooking and kid-wrangling. However, I get to be at home with our kids all day. Not a bad trade.

But while I might not feel the modern urge to demand household-chore-equity, I find that I am strangely emotional about sleep equity. By that I mean, for some reason I deeply believe that my husband and I should get similar amounts of sleep.

If we went to bed at the same time, then I feel he should get up at the same time as me (i.e. when the baby wakes – we’re all awake). If he worked for 3 hours after my bed time, I feel as if I ought to let him sleep in for about 3 hours. If he sleeps for four, I get annoyed. If he stayed up playing games, no sleep credits for that either. If we’re both home and the kids are awake and he wants to take a nap, I get really snitty about the unfairness of it all. Sulking can only be avoided by promising me some nap time tomorrow.

If the sleep scales get out of balance, I get jealous. This is true even if I wasn’t tired and he just had more opportunity to sleep than I did, I still get annoyed that he got to nap. I am the lighter sleeper of us two, which means that if anyone is awake in the house, I’m generally awake too. This means that the sleep credit balance is seldom in my favour. Which means the grouch in me is awakened too.

I have no idea where these feelings come from: this presumption that I have a right to exactly the same amount of rest time as my husband. They are strong and visceral – and like many things in marriage, I didn’t know I felt so strongly about it until I actually got there. (In pre-marital prep you think you’re so flexible about so many things, until you discover months down the line that you’re completely angry or flustered because the dishes don’t get attended to immediately after dinner… and you never knew you felt strongly about it until someone didn’t want to touch the dishes until the following day…)

As it turns out, I feel strongly about sleep equity. I am trying to work on it though. It is, after all, just another way of “keeping score” in a relationship… which is always a calculation in favor of unhappiness.

If I got 6 hours of sleep and he got 8, is it REALLY worth another 4 hours of sulking on my part to ‘punish’ my dear husband for his better quality rest? Of course not. This selfish part of me needs some taming yet.

My kids are asleep right now. During this quiet hour I might give this some more thought. But then again, I might take a nap.


Photo credit: starlightsTulsa – Algo Ha Cambiado Para Siempre (Flickr Creative Commons, edited by Bronwyn Lea)