The Rooster of the Day by Annita Woz

jaedynshospitalfeetShe bounds out of the bedroom, takes a flying leap and lands on my left leg, her arms gripped together behind me allow her to lift both feet off the ground and then she giggles.  I ask, in the traditional words that are a part of all of our mornings, “Did you have a good sleep?” And she says, “I had a good sleep, mom.”

The the sun shines and wakes us up, nature’s alarm never forgets to call us to the new day.  Since children, there is no horrid buzzing, no slapping at the clock to make it stop. That jolting sound, piercing into our cocoon of blurry hugs has been easily abandoned, rendered obsolete really, since the arrival of our children.

A crying baby in the night would rouse me from my bed faster than any electronic gadget could when I woke to go to work. You know the kind of work I mean- the kind for pay.

The sounds that wake moms and dads everywhere are the ultimate man-made non-technology sounds that would, at first appearance seem to be more harsh than the buzzer.  Before there were morning words,  there was that kind of communication that infants master- the crying kind.

Who wants to wake to a crying baby except a mother who knows that her voice alone may have the power to soothe those sounds into quiet calm.  With a practiced swoop, a mother can gather the rooster of the day in fleecy blankets and tuck her nose into that fork of shoulder and neck and inhale the air of onesies and lavender lotion mixed with helplessness and dependence.

It is both invigorating and crushing, this weight of reliance on our tired selves.

Though beaten down by lack of sleep, unable to string words together some mornings, craving coffee and the adrenaline that comes from a good workout, the call of a child, gets a parent up in time to remind us of the choices we have made when we accepted this new position as leader in this family.

To serve or protect? To comfort or to coddle? To hear or ignore? Ferberize or family bed? These are the questions that tug at our hearts, replay in our logical minds, give us sweet sleep or rob us of  things we did not know we didn’t know.

In the night, when she was learning from us how to survive living in this big new world,  our first child fussed and kicked enough to rock the little bassinet sitting right next to the bed.  I would turn on the little lamp, gather up my child and sit in the rocking chair, staring out through the window into the silent yard.  The sun was not shining.  The room was now lit like an airport runway and I could see the laundry piled up, could see the clutter of the bedroom that had no voice to force me to care about it.

My child, it was blatantly clear, was not the kind that slept through the night.

I rocked slowly, tears running down my face, exhausted.

Her little hand with open palm, touched my skin, then my robe, then my skin again, never sure where it was landing, but knowing that it was connecting to safety in the night.  I was safety. I was shocked to realize this truth. With no experience, no manuals, no training other than from books I was the resident expert on strength and guidance, even when sleep deprived and cranky.  I was the source of all good, if I chose to be, never alone again,  a part of this new little human’s life.

If I had slept I might have missed it.

The sweet silence of safety that lullabies a baby and gives it back to the night, is a mutual morning song that teaches us that we can start a day with thoughts of things other than deadlines and duties.  This is a gift children give to mothers and fathers instructing us to carve out of our modern routine the irritant called the alarm.

I have learned to recognize the opportunity of comforting a child as a way to start my day, knowing that if I hold her there long enough, I can start this day without that jarring non-giving noise, and I will see the sun rise, will watch the neighborhood lights turn on, will witness the street waken to the traffic of living.

I will not miss out.

I have left the warmth of my blankets.  The hollowed out pillow that cradled my head is cold now.  The mattress gives up the weight of my spouse who comes to check on his firstborn and his wife, both adults changed so much by being torn from our sleep,  to this point where it doesn’t really matter when day begins in this endless cycle of learning to sleep, eat, wake and begin again.

It is the middle of this night and her tiny hand wraps around dad’s giant pinkie. She settles. Her dark eyes search our faces,  we peer back at her studying this creature that holds our hearts.

And she graces us with her first smile.

A. Woz, Child Grower

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