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Turbo Boost, Mommy-Style

Thursday night, Cora started whimpering in
her sleep – waking up and crying fretfully a minute or so,
then going back to sleep. She’d spent the week getting me up
a few times a night, looking for a cuddle and a respite from her
nightmares. So as I lay in bed at midnight, having not yet fallen
asleep, I listened to her whimpering and became a bit crabby,
anticipating another such night ahead.

A few minutes into it, Brian nudged me and said,
“Shouldn’t you go in there?” I shot daggers at
him in the dark and hissed, “I only go in if she specifically
asks for me! I’m not running in at every little whimper!
She’s got to sleep without me – she’s TWO YEARS

Cora would fall asleep for a few minutes,
then wake and cry weakly again, which meant I didn’t get any
sleep at all. My eyes began burning with fatigue, and I lay there
resentfully with an inner monologue that went something like this:
“When am I going to get enough sleep again? When will it be
MY turn to sleep through the night and ignore everyone else? If I
don’t get more sleep I’m going to DIE!”

Then I heard a sound not unlike a cat coughing up a hair ball,
followed by Cora crying and saying, “Mommy! I threw

Several things happened simultaneously: I threw back the covers and
jumped up, running to Cora’s room before Brian even sat up in
bed; Cora cried some more and called for me again; and I officially
named myself the Worst, Most Selfish Mother in the World.

Cora spent the next three hours throwing up almost continuously; it
was a vicious cycle of vomit, clean up, sit and rock for ten
minutes, get in the crib, throw up again five minutes later. We had
just enough time to keep the sheets changed and the laundry
switched over before the next cycle would start again, and I knew
the next cycle would start again, yet I optimistically crawled into
bed every time for a scant five minutes of staring at the ceiling
and listening to the monitor.

As I sat and rocked Cora for the fifth or so time that night around
3 a.m., I realized I wasn’t tired any more. I mean, I was
physically exhausted from the hustling around, but my eyes
weren’t burning and I wasn’t having trouble staying
awake. I sat in the rocking chair, knowing I might well be up for
another three hours and knowing I could handle it. My crabby,
ego-centric fatigue from earlier was gone.

And I realized that we mommies have a sort of turbo-boost button
inside that we can push whenever we have to step into a Mommy
Crisis. When something comes up, the peripheral complaints fall
away and we get in there and get the job done, with just enough
energy to get us through it. It’s like the ability to pick a
bus up off your baby in an accident, but on a smaller scale, and we
do it every day.

I was telling someone the other day that God seems to give me 98%
of the patience I need to deal with my kids, and expects me to work
for the other two percent. It’s the only way I can explain
how my patience with them always runs out ten minutes before nap
time, or five minutes before Daddy’s supposed to get home.
It’s as if we have our ration of strength and fortitude, and
we stretch it out to fit the hours as best we can, but when that
finish line is in sight we get reckless and start burning it until
we’re left a little short at the end. But when a crisis comes
up we find those inner reserves and dig deep and realize
we’ve got what it takes – we push that Turbo Boost
button and deal with the consequences – flat out exhaustion
the next day, for example – when we’ve got the luxury
of thinking about ourselves.

So in a way, I guess it’s a good thing that I’m walking
around crabby and fatigued this weekend – it must mean
there’s nothing Code Red going on in our house right now.

Small comfort when I’m still getting up a couple times a
night with a two-year-old, but I’ll take what I can get.


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