in the still of the night

Brooklynn came into our room last night, just like she does what feels like most nights of the working week. She stumbles in, navigates her way around to my side the of the bed where, depending on how late we were up and what stage of my sleep cycle I’m in, I may or may not already be awake. Last night, I was not awake. It was about 3:10, and the first thing I can remember is a small voice in my head saying, “Daddy. Daddy. Wake up.”

On the weekends, when Brooklynn wakes up in the morning before us but after the sun is up, we don’t try to put her back in her bed. It’s light outside and it’s hard to convince her that she should be sleeping. So, instead of getting out of bed, I grab her and haul her up beside me.

On a good morning, she will be tired enough that she’ll drift off next to me and we’ll all get another half hour sleep. On a bad morning, she’ll be awake enough that she’ll bug me by shifting around and tapping my arm and head for ten minutes before leaning close to my ear and whispering, “Daddy, I want breakfast.”

In the dark last night, my half-awake brain started rearranging pillows to bring Brooklynn in to bed with me. It wouldn’t be the first time. A couple weeks ago, Rhiannon woke up to an open bedroom door, checked to see if Brooklynn was up, and eventually found her laying next to me. Still, it isn’t a habit we want to start, and just before grabbing her I realized what I was doing and picked her up to carry her back to her own room instead.

We don’t know why she wakes up and comes to our room in the night. She usually doesn’t want water. Maybe she kicks her covers off and doesn’t know how to tuck herself back in. This is something we really need to work on. And maybe she just wants to know we’re still around.

I tucked her in with both the sheet and the blanket, at her request, and went to walk back to my own room. As is typical, she hadn’t said a word since she woke me up. It’s one of the reasons we really don’t know why she comes over so often. As I closed her door, I heard her say, “Daddy.”

I paused and waited, because at that time of night, running low on sleep, I’m never 100 percent sure that what I think I hear is accurate. Then again, quietly. “Daddy.”

I opened the door and walked back to her bed. Kneeling over her, I asked her what was wrong. I expected to hear that she wanted a drink of water, or that I didn’t tuck her in right and the blanket was too high or something like that.

“Daddy, you forgot to give me a kiss.”

We’ve had our moments with Brooklynn recently. It turns out dealing with a toddler isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and I struggle to stay patient with her at times. Couple that with a slight lack of sleep in general, a lack of time, and split attention between two kids and we ask a lot of her to be a big girl and go with the program. Some days are better than others.

But in the end, we still have a little girl who loves her parents very much and wants nothing more than to be loved and cared for right back.

We’re working on that love not being required at three in the morning.