Mum's Life

'A bird sings outside her window, just for us': An open letter to my sleeping daughter

It's 5am. My mind collapses in exhaustion. I hear something perfect, the best soundless sound I have ever heard: My baby is asleep.

Her eyes flutter so gently, I think I might have made it up. I make up stories of boats with wings just for her, but I could never create something so pure as her sleepy-eye flutter. It must be real. It is real.

I can’t believe she is asleep.

I lean in to check if she is real. I watch her tummy, peeling back her ducky duvet to make extra-sure. Her breath (like her heartbeat) is quicker than mine, the books say. But the time it takes for her chest to rise and fall feels like forever. I panic for a second until I know for sure. Yes, she is breathing.

I can’t believe she is asleep.

‘What’s peace?’, she’ll ask me someday. My baby makes a sound like nothing ever made before. Soft, glittering snores. In and out. They are the most perfect lyrics. I listen like it’s the last song I’ll ever hear. A bird sings outside her window, just for us.

I can’t believe she is asleep.

This feeling is making me brave. I lean in too far. So far, my breath tickles her cheek. I inhale her and she stirs. I hope I haven’t broken the spell.

I watch frozen silent as one small, strong arm punches in slow motion towards the glow-in-the-dark galaxy above. Each part of her face squishes up. Her barely-there eyebrows raise, confused. Her pink cheeks puff out, the cheeks I spent all day kissing. I concentrate on her eyes as they flicker. My baby sighs and gets all comfy again.

I can’t believe she is still asleep.

I float away on tiptoe. I have learnt my lesson: will never ever disturb her again. At least for an hour or so. I think of all I can accomplish. My future is limitless.

I can’t believe she’s still asleep.

At 5:05, a sound tears through the gooey peace, shattering it. I feel myself sink down, onto the bottom step…in a mother-shaped heap. The walls are plain and dull. The spell is broken.

I can’t believe she is awake.







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