Have you noticed? The days? They’re getting longer! I’m so happy. No offense to February, but I’m always happy to bid it farewell. March just sounds like spring. Sure, where I live we’ll still probably have a number of snowy days, but March feels like we’ve really turned a corner on our journey out of winter. The days are literally getting longer, and I’m fairly convinced I can notice every extra second of daylight.
Oh, also, I’m sleeping for approximately six minutes per night, so that could be a contributing factor to why my days feel so much longer.
Yes, it has happened. I’m less than two months out from my due date and the restless nights have begun. Many people warned me about the sleeplessness of parenthood almost immediately upon hearing I am pregnant. I always thought it was a strange way to congratulate and encourage a newbie parent, but what do I know?
Our first child is keeping me tossing and turning in the evening hours as she polishes a few things up before joining us on this side of the womb. In the meantime, as we wait for her, we have a dog who we “parent.” I know—our dog, Roger, isn’t a human child and cannot totally prepare us for what we’re about to experience, but he seems to be doing a good job trying to give us some practice.
Just this week, Roger has decided that he is terrified of everything. Not just some things, as we’ve been aware of since we adopted him two years ago. He’s afraid of everything.
We recently moved from the suburbs to the heart of downtown. It’s a big transition but I guess I acclimated to the sights and sounds of the city pretty quickly, having been a city dweller in the past. During the first several weeks, Roger seemed tentative but adaptable to his new surroundings.
Until this week. Every particularly loud car or motorcycle he hears from the living room sends him running to the bedroom to hide. He hasn’t been eating regularly and refuses to come out to the main living spaces, where the street noises are more noticeable. It has been really consuming to know how to care for him in the midst of his fear. My husband and I will communicate throughout the day, staying up to date on whether or not Roger is eating, sleeping, or pooping. What should we do? Who should we talk to? How do we help him?
My eyes burn with exhaustion as I take him to a nearby dog park for some exercise and fresh air, hoping the activity will infuse some life into our sad little pup. So far, neither my sleep nor my dog have improved much, but here’s the good news: I’m doing it! This isn’t a platform to toot my own horn (well, maybe a tiny toot, because COME ON) but to express gratitude at the way(s) we can find ourselves being shaped and prepared for all that is to come.
It’s incredibly frustrating to toss and turn all night and it’s painful to see my typically energetic dog feeling so down, but I can see how I’m being prepared for motherhood almost as clearly as I can see the days getting longer.
Even the most trying circumstance can be a stepping stone to whatever the next season of life holds for us. Not every experience has to be “practice” for what’s next, but so many experiences can be if we choose to see them as such.
Some days, I’m just tired. My body aches and everything feels like it requires 700 times more energy than it should. Other days, however, I feel grateful for the sleepless nights and agitated dog. It’s not because these things are good or healthy, but because they encapsulate so much of what this next season of life will hold for me, and I find it to be grace that allows me this slow entrance into my new reality. It’s grace that I am going through so many consecutive days on so little sleep, and that I’m experiencing what it’s like to try and tend to a living being who cannot speak words to me.
It’s not how I want life to look right now, but I have to believe that I’ll be a better mom because of every circumstance that refines my ability to parent this little girl. You’ll be better at what lies ahead, too, because of whatever refining process life is taking you through today. Here’s to lots of practice—may it bring much grace, a bounty of energy, and a happier dog.