All Through the Night
Your son is born.
Pushed forth in joyful triumph.
He comes wet and wriggling into your eager arms.
First he licks, but slowly you teach him to nurse.
A little later, you laugh at his quizzical look when he tastes the first rush of milk.
So you keep him next to you all the warm, tender night.
Drinking and growing, drinking and growing,
With no thought of time.
Your one-year-old is sleeping on your arm.
No longer tiny, but chubby-legged and strong.
His curly head so heavy on your aching arm–
Though Lord knows it should be strong enough after carrying him all day.
Let’s try to move it — oh, oh, no good.
“Yes, yes, hungry one,” you murmur. “Here it is.”
You might as well forget the arm and try to doze off again.
Can anything beat a two-year-old cutting his molars in the middle of the night?
You feel as if he’s going to tear you to bits.
Nothing seems to work anymore.
You’ve given and given until there’s nothing left.
Will this long night ever end?
Your three-year-old is nursing quietly.
How long has it been? Well, long enough.
You might as well try it — it usually works.
“Honey, Mommy wants to go sleepy now. O.K.?”
Muttering, “O.K.,” he rolls over and begins to snore.
Gratefully you snuggle down under the covers between two warm bodies.
Your long-legged four-year-old is tossing and moaning.
Suddenly he cries out in terror, “Mommy! Mommy!”
Coming up out of a deep sleep, you move towards him.
A nightmare again. Ah, well.
“Don’t be afraid, sweetheart. Mommy’s here. Here.”
All is quiet.
The sound of your five-year-old giggling softly intrudes on your sleep.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, I was just thinking about when I dranked your milk.”
“Oh, really? I thought you’d forgotten all about that. Anyway, what’s so funny about that?”
“Nothing. I just feel happy to think about it. . . . . Mommy?”
“What? Oh. Oh, well. Just this once.”
Your six-year-old is looking down at you in the half-light of dawn.
“Mommy, Daddy. It’s kind of cold in my new room. Can I come in with you?”
The alarm goes off. You are alone in the big bed.
From the bathroom come voices. Your seven-year-old is watching his dad shave.
You realize with a start that nobody asked for anything all night long.
Not even a drink of water.
You sigh and wonder why the years go by as fast as hours.
And in your heart you’re glad you had those times together.
All through the night.
—–by Kathy Eickmann
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