Sunday, January 31, 2016


My phone dings. Her first text is a picture of her adorable four month old with tiny sparkling studs in her ears.“I got her ears pierced!”

My phone dings again, and her second text is longer. My friend shares how her baby’s been struggling to sleep and how she, as a new mom, is exhausted. “When will it end?” She’s one of my close friends and so I know this is not a desperate question, but, though a real one, a light-hearted one. She also knows me enough to know I’m not the advice-dispensing type when it comes to all the pragmatic details of motherhood. What works for one mother and baby might be the totally wrong formula for another. I simply encourage her. “I remember the feeling well. You’ll get through this, dear friend, and one day will sleep through the night again! xo”

But since then, her question, lighthearted as it was, has lingered. I want to say more, to give a better answer to that question: “When will it end?”

There are countless articles and books that provide helpful practical advice from people who probably got their children to sleep through the night way earlier than Justin and I did. So I’ll leave the sleeping tips to the Baby Whisperers.

But I do have something to say to my dear friend, to the young mother struggling through the exhaustion of the earliest years: It will end, and it’ll end sooner than you can imagine.

This past Christmas our family bought a fir tree and decorated our home on November 30th. That night, after our children went to sleep, I unwrapped the festive European advent calendars I’d bought from a small Swiss gift shop near where I work, and hung them on the fridge so the kids could open the first door the next morning. Standing in our kitchen looking at those calendars, looking at twenty five neatly closed doors, I felt sadness mingled with the desire to make each day count; in front of me, twenty five brand new unopened days. How quickly those days would surely pass.

On January 1st when the evergreen lay cold on the curb and the decorations had all been packed away, I stood beside a garbage bin holding those advent calendars—each door opened by small hands, each day of Advent come, lived, and gone.

There are no calendars with doors and numbers marking the opening and living of life, but on January 1st we stand looking at the year ahead, knowing three hundred and sixty five days will arrive and pass with steady rhythm.

Already, February knocks.

When my oldest son was a newborn we lived in a small apartment in New York. There was one slightly longer hallway in that apartment and the layout of our place made it possible to walk in a pattern of circles. Our first baby didn’t sleep much during the first few months, and he was vocal about it. He would cry and cry and I’d walk round and round. Eventually, sometimes after a couple hours of crying, he’d settle down and I’d walk to the kitchen window overlooking the main street that cut through our Hudson River town. I’d lean against the counter, looking out as the light of the street lamps reached in.

Though it was eight years ago, I remember those nights; I remember being so tired and I remember that feeling: When will it end? I’d often stand there in our kitchen for a while after he fell asleep, feeling his warm weight on my chest, listening to his breathing, watching his tiny brows furrow in sleep.

That kitchen window and those nights with a newborn... long nights but magical ones, too. Memories I wouldn’t give away for all the sleep in the world.


I hear the stomping of winter boots and the front door opens. I look up from my computer screen, up from these memories, and as my oldest boy trudges in he grins at me. “Mom, it was awesome!” He’s flushed, and when he yanks off his toque his hair is sticking up in adorable hat head. I ask him about skating, and pull him in for a quick kiss. His cheek is still cold from being outside.

Sleepless nights end, and babies grow into boys.

When they’re newborns, the days are sometimes long and the nights sometimes even longer. But the invisible door of each day is opened, life is lived, and then quicker than we can imagine the season comes to an end.

Tired Mom of little ones, it will end. You will sleep again. But for now and until then, don’t miss the gift that is life right now; this season with your newborn is quickly passing; you are carrying someone who one day soon will walk.

When tonight get’s dark, when you’re wondering when it’ll end, don’t forget to stand in the stolen light from the streetlamp memorizing the features of that tiny furrowed brow. Even in the tiredness, these moments are a gift.