It always seems like sounds are amplified at nighttime, like the creaking of the floorboard, the wind howling outside your window and the thoughts inside your head. After the sun goes down and everyone is settled into bed fast asleep, it is like you could hear for miles if you really tried.
When all is quiet, I can hear the 18-wheelers running along the highway from streets away. I can hear thunder rolling in from across town and I can hear the deepest thoughts that I have kept tucked away for days or even months make their way to the forefront of my mind, unable to keep them at bay any longer.
I have always had a dysfunctional relationship with nighttime for all my life. When I was younger, like most children, I hated bedtime. For some reason, I always had nightmares. I would cry every time I knew the impending darkness was coming because I knew that darkness also brought his creepy, crawling, hairy and bug-eyed friends along with him to infiltrate my mind until the sun brought the light again.
As soon as the smallest ray of light shone through my window, I was able to settle my mind and finally allow myself to fall into a deep sleep for at least a couple of hours before it was time to start the day.
I struggled with this off and on until adulthood. I was only a few years into my adult life when I became pregnant with my oldest Emerson. Pregnancy was the most beautiful, yet most uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced. I was incredibly ill the first few months of pregnancy. Everyone called it “morning sickness,” but the nausea always hit me like a freight train as soon as my head touched my pillow at nighttime.
After the nighttime sickness finally subsided, I was prominently pregnant at that point, so I bid goodbye to the toilet bowl and welcomed the back pain, leg cramps and body aches. Even though all this subsided after she entered this world, nighttime meant a whole new and different thing at this point, and it was darker than any other night time I have ever experienced before.
As a first-time mother my body and mind were going through changes I never expected. What was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life, I found myself feeling the complete and total opposite, but only at night. It was like night and day were in competition for my soul. Daylight brought exactly that: the light heartedness, the delightfully sweet moments of motherhood, highlighting all the positive ways my entire life has changed in a matter of months.
Once again as soon as dusk touched the treetops, I would begin to feel the same greyness take over my mind. I would become overwhelmed with anxiety, and I would begin to weep on cue every single time. It was not until months later that I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
However, the darkness also seemed to have the same effect on my baby. She could no longer be comforted by sweet snuggles and kisses, she did not want to rest her eyes or smile her gummy smile. She spent hours upon hours working her vocal cords, hitting what I am still sure was the highest soprano in the history of sopranos.
I was beginning to wonder if those same creepy, crawly, hairy, and bug-eyed creatures who used to visit me at nighttime were now paying homage to my daughter’s mind. When you are in the thick of it, it seems like there is absolutely no end in sight. You really start to wonder if you will survive it, but it does slowly get better and then you find yourself on the other side of it with no memory of how you finally got here, but alas here you are.
I am at that point in my motherhood journey. I am no longer kept up at night with a screaming baby or even by my old scary nighttime friends. I am kept up with something much scarier- my own thoughts. During the day, my mind is busy with working, parenting, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, visiting with friends and whatever else that day brings. It is not very often I find myself with extra time during the daylight hours, but I seem to have too much when the moon ascends.
When all is quiet, and the girls are taking those slow, deep breaths that lets me know that they are fast asleep, the darkness outside creeps its way into my home and infiltrates my mind. Every thought I may have pushed away during the day, every worry I tucked away into the furthest corner, every conviction I avoided makes its way back to front and center.
I begin to wonder if I did enough during the day, did I play with the girls enough, did I get enough work done. Then, I begin to wonder if I did too much, did I yell too much, did I let them have too much screen time, or did I let them get away with too much.
An English poet named John Florio once said, “Night is the mother of thoughts.” I came across that quote in one of my college English courses, and I never understood it until now. I would love more than anything to wrap this up by giving all of you mothers who relate to this thing I now refer to as “momsomnia” a resolution to this quandary.
The one and only thing I have found that settles my racing mind in the midst of this darkness, is reaching out to the ultimate light, the light of God. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” With Him in my heart, I can rest peacefully knowing I have the morning sun within me, and I allow Him to shine his never-ending light through me, touching and erasing any and every dark thought that may try to slither in and corrupt my reasoning.
Every night, I fall asleep in the middle of prayer, but I know He knows my mind and heart better than I do myself, and just like Lamentations 3:21-23 says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I wake every morning, perhaps not feeling fully refreshed myself, but knowing He is going to greet me with His unfailing and fresh mercies every time.
(Paige Nash is a mom and digital journalist for The Webster Parish Journal.)
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