Stretch out in your bed, the one with the Ikea duvet and expansive depression right in the middle, beside the husband of your youth. Remain at the thin place between sleeping and wakefulness, watching the dawn come in. By now, you’ve somehow managed to be grateful that you’re sleeping while you are still sleeping (and you’ve learned to count dozing). Move into the duvet and turn over right at the same moment that you hear your youngest start to stir. Listen to him laughing to himself in his crib, babbling and hollering.
In which these are the instructions for the morning
Keep your eyes shut and pray that he’ll go back to sleep. Consider the fact that those who claim to have children that sleep past 6:00 AM are clearly liars.
Feel the breeze from your always-open window. Listen to the sound of the creek just outside and congratulate yourself yet again for it, like somehow you had something to do with the smell of trees and sound of birds and running water, just outside your window.
Drag yourself from your warm bed and stumble, straw-haired and mascara-bleary, to the boy’s room. Try to be quiet-quiet-quiet so that your daughter will magically keep sleeping through the boy’s laughter but look, there’s the door opening and a blonde pixie is blinking out at you, wondering if she can get up too? Change the baby’s nappy and carry them both back to your bedroom.
Toss them into the bed. Be careful to aim for your husband so that he has to wake up too.
Crawl back into the bed and pull the covers over everyone. Laugh when your daughter scoots over to your side of the bed with the report that Daddy is stinky and she doesn’t want to smell him. Let your boy lay down right on top of you, his wide mouth buried right into the nape of your neck, kissing and giggling and burrowing.
Curve your left arm around your daughter so that you can stroke her baby-fine hair while holding her tight and use your right arm to trace circles on your son’s back lightly with your fingernails.
Smell their heads and swear to yourself that you will never forget how they smell when they are sweaty and sleepy and yours.
Lock eyes with your husband across the expanse of babies in the middle of the bed. Chuckle at how you’ve both changed since you were a couple of skinny punks planning to change the world. Hear him say good morning, beautiful.
Wonder if your daughter has taken a breath since she woke up and if she will ever run out of things to say, plans to make. Adjust the koala bear masquerading as your son because he keeps crawling up closer and closer, trying to wrap himself around you. Roll him off and onto his sister whose skinny arms are outstretched, asking for her turn to snuggle him.
Let them hold each other for a while. Feel your heart skip a beat when he chirps her name a few times, in that high octave only reserved for her, and she laughs, calling him “such a clever boy” like she has suddenly grown up.
Cling to the side of the bed while your husband clings to the other side, curved like a parenthesis to hold them between. Navigate the transition from sleepy snuggles to puppy-dog wrestling matches before they all fall out of the bed to start the day again.
Later in the afternoon, when nap time rolls around, your daughter will ask to sleep on your side of the bed. She’ll tell you that it’s because it’s her favourite place in the world, because it’s where she snuggles with you. She’ll call it The Family Bed.
(tone inspired by How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto.)