I am not new to this getting up in the middle of the night gig. My third child is almost one, and my kids have hit all the natural sleep regressions and then some. Being up in the middle of the night with a child is basically my natural body rhythm at this point.
Yet, there I was last week on vacation…laying outside the doorway to the office where my 1-year-old was (not) sleeping…near tears. It wasn’t worth it to walk 25 steps across the house (again) just to get back up in 4 minutes to put the binky in. There was nothing wrong with the baby. She was just in a strange place and couldn’t get re-settled. There was no reason for me to be worried for her, or myself.
It was in this moment that I tried to break down the emotion I was feeling—one I am familiar with. I feel it every time I’m up in the middle of the night alone. A sinking feeling in my gut. Sometimes it feels like frustration that this couldn’t be a magic night of sleep. Other times it feels like a jealous rage because I can hear my spouse sleeping soundly. (He’s had a nearly-fair share of up-all-nights, too). But I think when I really break it down…that pit in my stomach, and those wells in my eyes are the symptoms of loneliness.
I was surrounded by people—9 not including the two of us who were up—but no one saw me. I was sitting in a door jamb, half asleep, shivering on the cold tile floor. I was jumping up, putting the binky back in and gently scratching her back, macgyvering my way further and further from the pack ‘n’ play before carefully slipping back out of the room. On repeat. For two hours.
What’s lonelier than being surrounded by people and not being seen? Nothing.
Did I want to wake the whole house up? No way! Did I need help from anyone? Nope. Was there anything anyone could’ve done to make it better for me? Not a chance. The situation was textbook “it is what it is” parenting. We have all been there. But it doesn’t take away that sinking, exhausted, lonely feeling in the gut.
Maybe I am just egotistical—wishing to be seen and feeling all alone. But just in case it’s not just me, know that I see you. It might be 2am and I may not actually be there, but I SEE you. I see you with your littles at the store, showing up to meetings, staying awake in church, and at school functions with your bigs. I see you standing tall and can almost hear your mind racing, “I can do hard things, tonight will be better, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” You are not alone. In fact, you’re in the best kind of company—with moms all around the world.