MamaBlogger365 – The Midnight Pony by Lowry Manders

{Here’s a “blast from my past” journal entry from my summer from hell! It was July of 2009, and I was new to being a Mommy of 2 kids. I was sleep-deprived with a colicky newborn baby girl, a busy 2-year-old boy, a mostly-absent husband finishing OB/Gyn residency, I was trying to hold myself together enough to keep teaching and keep sane, and we were going stir-crazy in our messy, crowded little apartment. Here’s a “night” in the life. And let me say, for the record, to all those other overwhelmed mommies in the throes of caring for more than one child in diapers…”IT… GETS… BETTER.” Slow down, take a deep breath, and take in those words of hope. You will get through this.}

So, why does it seem that our children can sense those nights that we desperately NEED a good night’s sleep, and plot to foil our slumber schedules? It was the night before a long road trip with my 2-year-old Michael James and 2-month-old Ellie, a road trip without Daddy. It was the night following an exhausting day of parenting and teaching, one of those nights your head finally hits the pillow like a brick and your bed just sucks you into oblivion. And it was a night that Daddy was working at the hospital, which meant no snoring, and I get the whole bed to myself! (I secretly look forward to these nights when I can use all the pillows – even my husband’s darling “Laura” Ashley pillow – and victoriously spread out like a starfish claiming the bed as “mine, all mine!”)

And so, around 11:00, after nursing Ellie and laying her peacefully back into the pac n’ play squeezed between our bed and the window, I drifted off… with a hopeful smile, that maybe, just maybe, tonight would be THE NIGHT of uninterrupted sleep I’d been waiting for. THE NIGHT to restore my body, refresh my spirit, renew my mind, so that I’d wake up to be more than just a shadow of my former self (maybe even free of shadows under my eyes), ready to take on the day with joy, awaken the cherubs with songs about sunshine and flowers, push the double-stroller around the lake for my first exercise in months, make sequined creations with MJ, teach Ellie her body parts in Spanish, tackle tantrums with love and patience, “cook” up some oatmeal for breakfast instead of offering Magic Pops with Nutella again, all before loading us into the car, with leftover energy for speaking in complete sentences to any grown-up that I might encounter along the way. But alas, the stars were not aligned for me that night.

At 2:30 a.m. I was awakened from a deep slumber to the sounds of MJ crying loudly over his baby gate, summoning “Mommy!” through the pacifier. Unsure as to what had awakened him, but cursing it, I settled him back in bed, lying next to him. But when I got up, he followed, and began to cry, “Mommy, I hung! (hungry). My tummy is empty!” So I broke the rules and let him drink some milk in bed. (Hey, if the rules can’t be bent at 2:30 in the morning, then when can they?)

After snuggling, I snuck away again, and had just gotten myself back to sleep, when his urgent cries awoke me again. This time, it sounded as though he’d had some sort of nightmare. He was insistent about something that seemed crucial to his very existence, trying desperately to climb over the gate, huge tears falling down his cheeks. Perhaps, like Lassie, he has a sixth sense about a burglar trying to break in, or he alone knows the secret code to unlocking the lock box with the missile that will save humanity from the impending meteor accelerating towards Earth. It must be terribly important!

He repeated his lifeline phrase until I figured out he was saying, “Mommy, I ride pony!”, referring to the stick horse sleeping soundly in his closet. In disbelief and with as much internal laughter as one can experience when sleep-deprived, I explained to him that we just don’t ride ponies in the house in the middle of the night, but that he could sleep with his pony. And so he cuddled up next to it, repeatedly pushing on its ear with great urgency so that we both fell back to sleep to the lullaby of electronic galloping, whinnying, and the ever-soothing “William Tell Overture”. A couple of hours of pony-filled dreams later, Ellie’s cries reminded me that she is “hung”, too, and I resentfully, sleepily, offer her sustenance from my over-extended body until I feel literally and figuratively “sucked dry” of all life force! And so it is, and so it shall be, that this once taken-for-granted commodity of glorious uninterrupted sleep remains a distant “dream”. Needless to say, I was not a cheerful mommy or traveler the next day, and the “midnight pony” (for fear of creating more nightmares for Mommy) did NOT make the trip.

Bio: Says Lowry Manders, “I am a parent and music teacher, a teacher of parents, a child development nerd and lifelong learner, a singer and wanna-be-writer, and now, I’m trying to be a blogger! I feel I have valuable ideas to share, funny stories from my own parenting adventures, and hopefully, thoughtful reflections that will speak to YOU as a struggling mommy, because we’re all in this together! As a teacher, my mission is helping families to MAKE CONNECTIONS: connections in little growing brains and emotional connections that will last a lifetime, giving young children the foundations they need to achieve their full potential, even while creating more meaningful moments for parents with their kids. I created “Parent with Purpose” classes to share practical and inspirational ideas with fellow sojourners on this important path. Click on my website mommymanders.com to get some great parenting tips, and download some of my helpful hand-outs. Since I am also a Kindermusik teacher, I believe that music is the most powerful tool for making these connections (and research proves it), so, of course, my own parenting style is pretty much Maria Von Trapp meets Mr. Rogers.”

Support MamaBlogger365 and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011! Your tax-deductible donation in ANY amount will help us make our September POP-UP exhibit in NYC a permanent reality – visit our Members page to learn more.

Photo credit: straight from the horse’s mouth by aophotos|MorgueFile

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