Benjamin has been having a terrible couple of weeks. Strike that, it's actually been over a month now. First it was teething the two bottom molars. Then, before those were in, the two top ones started to show, and within a couple of days all four eye teeth are gleaming white just behind his red, swollen gums.
Now he has a terrible cold, combined with a wicked cough.
All this has meant that for the past month he has not slept through the night, waking at least every two hours every night. It has also meant he can't seem to fall asleep for both his morning and afternoon nap, often only sleeping for an hour total during the day (he needs at least 3-4.) On top of that, during the time when he is awake, he is fussy and crying and permanently attached to my hip. If I put him down for a second, he throws himself back, hitting his head on the floor and breaking down into a screaming fit of tears.
It is exhausting. More than once I have snapped angrily at him. More than once I have had to try to ignore it. My daytime patience hasn't just worn thin, it's pretty much gone.
And yet, when the day comes to a close, when the sun sets and the darkness swells around us, when I carry a sleep-eyed Benjamin up to his bedroom, when I close his door and turn on the white noise machine, when I turn off the overhead light and allow the small lamp to cast a soft glow on the room, the hardships of the day melt away. This is the half hour or so for just Benjamin and me. With all the other noise of the house blocked out, my mother heart warms for my baby boy. I change him into soft pyjamas. We sit on my rocker and read a book or two. We count to three and blow out the light together. I nurse him a little, and then cuddle him up into my arms and he tucks his head into the crook of my neck. I sing three, four, five songs, humming and murmuring in soft tones. I take pleasure in the baby smell of his warm face and the soft touch of his reddish hair. Then I lay him gently into his crib, gently turning him onto his side and setting his soother into his mouth and quietly retreat from his room.
No matter how hard and rough the day has been, the night always softens my disposition and it is just he and I, mother and son, once again.