My husband is sleeping.
Most people are sleeping at 3am. Not me. My children often stir at this time of night and I was the unanimously elected changer of anything covered in body functions in the wee hours of the morning. I listen and wait to see if they will roll over and go back to sleep or if there's a something I need to change.
Something I need to change. I can think of a few things.
I could change the dryer to on again and wake up to completely dry towels. I could change the attitude I have about the train conductor who decided to ruin 6:45 every morning with a blast of his whistle, that for some reason, upsets me even if the kids manage to sleep through it. I could change my schedule to include a quiet time in the morning before the kids wake up. I could change my outlook on budgets and probably effectively change our lives to a less stressed out version. I could change...
One of the kids calls out for "Daddy."
I could change my husband's unconscious state from asleep to awake and ask him to help that little person. I mean, they did call for him.
I get up and get another bottle and go in. Brushing hair out of sleepy eyes, I say, "Daddy's sleeping. It's too early, baby. Go back to sleep, okay?"
Daddy's sleeping. It's too early.
You see, Daddy gets up before the train goes by. Daddy drives a lot for his job, so being sleepy isn't an option. Daddy is the main breadwinner while Mommy runs a couple side businesses that have yet to create a lot of cash flow.
I once read about this woman who would wake up her husband everytime she and her breastfeeding baby were awake, because "if we're awake, you might as well be, too." Her reasoning shocked me. By shocked me, I mean, I was shocked by how much I disagreed with her, but still wanted to do the same thing.
You see, before I had children, I didn't even acknowledge the time that existed while I was sleeping. Other than a number of hours to count in my attempt at well-being. So, that image of a man next to me, night after night, unbothered, unmoved, peaceful and comfortable, as I address big needs of small people in the wee hours of the morning...That image, sometimes, is more sour than sweet. More resentful than thankful. More jealous than contented.
The system seems broken.
Broken. That feeling is a lie.
This is the truth. Our system is not broken. Nothing will be helped, not our marriage, not our children, not me, if we're BOTH sleep deprived. The truth is there are sweet moments with my children that I would not have experienced had we all been sleeping through the night. Our system is not broken. I am not broken. I am tired. Sleep deprivation is something women statistically are affected by more quickly than men. Ask anyone who's completed Hell Week of Navy SEAL training and I'm sure they will tell you that being tired, dare I say exhausted, takes it's toll over time. Time after time. Night after night.
3am in Western culture is often referred to as "witching hour." Maybe it's rooted in the past of that being the only hour the Catholic church didn't have prayers or services scheduled, so that's when a lot of black magic practitioners chose to practice their skills. Or maybe it's rooted in the concept of second sleep, the concept that before electricity most people woke up for a little bit at night, did a few things and then went back to sleep. Maybe it's continued with the traditional American marriage model that's slowly adjusting in our culture in which women are in charge of the needs of children. Maybe it's natural, because finding joy at 3am, is hard.
It is hard, but it is there. I know who I am at my best as a mom, as a woman, as a wife. Who do I want to be at my worst? At my most tired, most disheveled, most zombie-like? I want to be the mom that my children remember as patient and peaceful and sweet, even at 3am. Because they will remember. They will remember that I claim the name of Christ and they will remember the fruits of the Spirit that I display.
In the end, then, maybe the change that needs to be made is in my own spirit. That "witching hour" suddenly becomes an hour of silent love. An hour where I can double-check to see if my husband has money and clean clothes for when he wakes up in 2 hours. An hour where each child is covered in prayer and blankets. An hour where I train my heart to feed itself with the food of love rather than the poison of self-defeat and inflated injustices.
Nothing good ever came from sour, resentful jealousy. Proverbs 14:22 says, "...Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness." Devise: to plan or invent, by careful thought. I will devise good. I will devise good and in that I will notice more steadfast love and faithfulness that I know is always there, but often ignore. I will see the hardworking, dirty hands that love our children with abandon. I will see his eyes that truly see me, as the best version of who I am and who I want to be at the same time. I will see him pack sandwiches every night for the next day, trying to shave dollars off our expenses. I will see his tattooed arms reaching for me as an invitation to be comforted instead of viewing them as yet another person to care for.
I don't know if I'll ever get to the point of praying for that train conductor, but as I come back to bed, trying to fall back asleep, there he is.
My husband is sleeping.
Sleep on, husband, sleep on. For we will need you when the sun rises.