As I Sit And Watch You Sleep


The banging and popping of the central heating pipes confirms that it must be 4am. Iíve been sat in this room for almost three hours now. Another night lost. Admittedly, the last hour has been of my own volition, drawn in and seduced by your calming sleep, your gentle breath, your slight twitch, the slow rise and fall of your chest. Stuck in a spiderís web.

Iím tired beyond belief, exhausted past any point of comprehension. Night after night of the same routine; wake to feed, wake to wind, and wake to change. The frustration of the screaming, the uncontrollable tears, wanting to be held, wanting to be put down. Walking the boards with you in my arms, singing the few lullabies I know, making up a few new ones, and rocking you gently, trying to make whatever it is that disturbs you so much, go away. Eventually that moment comes when you let the control of your body be taken and you slide into the world of dreams.

Iíve sat here embraced by the soothing silence of the night and watched you sleep with only the sound of you wrestling some imaginary foe, trying to force the sleep from your eyes by rubbing vigorously to make it go away. How does someone so small, so fragile, and so delicate command so much attention, control so many peoples affection? How can you grab my hand so tightly, as I stroke your face while you try to avoid the depth of the night?

My life has changed beyond recognition. I never would have imagined myself as a father. My whole life before has not prepared me for this. This was never why I trained so hard, this was not what I had honed my skills for, and this was not what I had worked so hard for. Everything that I have thought about, everything that I intended to do, everything that I dreamed about did not include this moment.

I find myself wondering about what visits you while you dream? What makes you twitch and turn in the night? What makes you suddenly yelp and scream? What do you fight so hard against when we turn out the light? I wonder how someone so small can be so determined, so strong to be able to stay awake for so long with exhaustion bearing down on you, forcing the sleep to call to you, beckoning to you, trying to cradle you, trying to comfort you, and caressing you.

Was I prepared? No. Was I forewarned? No. It is impossible to understand the immense requirement of being a parent without being one. Everything you read in the vast mountains of books describing how to be a first time parent, everything the armies of doctors and midwifes tell you, and all the advice of other parents, your own included; not enough.

I think about my parents and all the times that they too sat over me. Did they have the same thoughts that I have now? Did they have the same hopes and dreams? Did I too struggle to stay awake? Did we somehow share some secret knowledge about the night that I have now lost? Locked in a moment that I have previously seen through your eyes.

My childhood defined me. There are moments in my life that create the structure to which my whole attitude and outlook is pegged to. I can recall many of these moments and know why and who I am. I look at my brothers and understand how being brought up as a middle child between those two has led to the inevitable shaping of my character. I look at my parents and accept the genetic traits that they have unwittingly given me as well as their ideals that they attempted to pass on. And then there is my own free spirit, the small part of me unfettered by nature or nurture, the part of me that decided what I wanted and how I was going to go about getting it.

Watching your face I know that with your birth, not only do I now feel so much more complete, not only do you create a new future, but you also give me a new past, provide a link to understanding, a new and unexpected bond with my parents as I once again share this moment.

I know that Iím not the same person I used to be and I know there is no way back to him. I used to be me. Me first, partner second, brother third, son fourth, friend last. Such a long list of responsibilities! I think that now Iím father first and me last, and although thatís a difficult concept to reconcile, I know thatís how itís meant to be. I knew who I was and I accept who I am.

I sit and watch you sleep and I think of the debt that I owe to my parents for being brought into this world. For being loved, nurtured, cherished, and taught. I consider how only now, do I posses the true means of repayment. By giving to you everything that I had, passing it all down another generation; the love that my brothers shared with me, the love that my mother and father gave to me as they sat and watched me sleep.

I am my Mother, Father, Brothers, and most of all, I am my children.

Written Without Prejudice
written without prejudice
Stories to go to bed with
stories to go to bed with

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