When I went home to Fredericksburg the other weekend (which was a stupendous trip), I failed at sleeping in as usual (Trent and I were up at 7:00 both mornings of our vacation...we stink at sleeping in) so Mom and I turned on the fireplace in their den (I would love to have a fireplace that I could just turn on and off) Saturday morning and chatted over coffee while we toasted our toes. (I know, I need to cool it with the parentheses.) We somehow ended up talking about parenting and she stated flat out that it is a very "sacrificial" time in your life and you just have to be selfless. (Whatever inklings of baby fever I might have had that day, if any, promptly went away, to come again another day) (...oh yeah, no more parentheses)
Aaaaanyway, Mom cited the example of my sister Katy and the nighttime chipmunk epidemic in her room during her toddler career. When the light was on, there were no chipmunks to be found, neither in the closet, nor under the bed, but as soon as that light was off, they were there in all their furry scariness and there was no cure except for Mom to climb in the small, uncomfortable twin bed with Katy Poo for the rest of the night. Katy got peaceful, chipmunk-free sleep. Mom, not so much.
Remembering this story reminded me to ask Mom something I had wondered for a long time: How in the world did she know when we needed her?
Allow me to set the scene, from my own experience this time. Maybe Katy just barged into mom and dad's room and said "Mama, there are chipmunks in my room again", thereby clearing alerting mama to the fact that a sacrificial night was ahead. But me? I was the quiet one, didn't want to bother people...was mostly just scared of people. So when I needed mama in the middle of the night, I was torn between sticking it out myself in order to not wake her and giving in to my little kid fears or needs. I would creep across the hallway, push open mom and dad's bedroom door, which was always cracked open, never shut, and...stand there. Mom slept on the side of the bed right by the door. As I would stand there weighing my options, not sure what to do and therefore not doing anything, she would miraculously, without fail, wake up and whisper "Anna Pie, what's the matter?" Not only did she know one of her five children was there needing her, she even knew which one!
Mom's answer to how she knew was "she just knew."
I got to thinking about the sacrificial part of this whole story. Think about the suspense Mom must have felt each time she whispered "John Boy/Anna Pie/Katy Poo/Sarah Grace/Abigail, what's the matter?" It could be anything...
"There are chipmunks in my room."
"I heard a cat howling outside."
"I'm worried about Bell because it's raining." (our childhood dog, RIP)
"I threw up."
"I wet the bed."
I'm sure she dreaded those last two... Regardless of the reason, some worse than others, it meant getting up and sometimes staying up for a while, sleeping (more like not sleeping) next to a comforted Katy, changing sheets in the middle of the night, quarantining sick children, tripping over toys...the list goes on. And that's only at night not to mention all she did for us during the day!
The last time I remember pushing open that door in the dark and standing there awkward and unsure, I was actually in highschool. Even when I was a teenager and figured I had long outgrown Mom's super power...it still worked!
"Anna Pie, what's the matter?"
"A scorpion fell off the ceiling fan and stung me on the stomach..."
Ok, so you gotta gimme a break for getting help for that one, even though I was in highschool! That was so not fun! Both mom and dad got up that time (dad waged an ongoing personal war against scorpions in that house) and helped me doctor my sting then resettle on the sofa for the remainder of the night. There was no way I was going back to bed with a rogue scorpion in the sheets somewhere...