It’s after midnight; the house is still. Poor Picasso and Little Miss are sick with a stomach bug and Souljourneyboy is coming down with it too. I’ve just cleaned up after Picasso twice in the last hour, given him a shower, changed his clothes and sheets and I’ve said I will stay up while he falls asleep.
Once more, I am part of the Midnight Clan of Motherhood.
It’s been a while – I was a regular member a few years ago, when I was in the thick of breastfeeding and settling and sleep deprivation. I certainly don’t miss it; but I think there’s something wonderful in the universality of human experience – that at any given moment there are mothers (and fathers too – I shouldn’t be sexist) awake when everyone else sleeps, feeding their babies, cuddling them back to sleep, comforting them through sickness or sadness or bad dreams.
So here I am again, and I am reminded of a Judith Wright poem I always think of when my children are sick.
Lie quiet in the silence of my heart
I watching thee am turned into a cloud;
I guarding thee am spread upon the air.
Lie quietly; be covered by my love.
I will be rain to fall upon your earth;
I will be shade to hold the sun from you.
I am the garden beyond the burning wind,
I am the river among the blowing sand;
I am the song you hear before you sleep.
In being these, I lose myself in these.
I am the woman-statue of the fountain
out of whose metal breasts continually
starts a living water; I am a vase
shaped only for my hour of holding you.
This drought is but to turn me into a cloud.
This heat but casts my shadow cooler on you.
Turn to my breast your fever, and be still.
Picasso is asleep now. I stroked my hand over his forehead and down his nose, just like I did when he was a baby – it used to make him close his eyes. He is so big now.
And I am going back to bed. I pray that all you mothers (and fathers) out there who are still awake – feeding, comforting, settling – will get some sleep this night too.