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in the middle of the night

Though he still wakes up occasionally, at some point during the last year Munchkin went from tormenting us on a nightly basis to sleeping soundly through the night. The same cannot be said for Junebug. Every once in a while she’ll provide us some respite, but much more often than not at least one of us (usually S) is up in the dead of night to coax her back to sleep.

Thankfully Junebug has dropped most of her self-destructive antics. There was a period of about four weeks when her forehead resembled a black-and-blue battlefield of overlapping bruises. Munchkin had a similar period at this age when he accumulated bumps and bruises by the dozen, but his owed entirely to clumsiness. With Junebug, these were self-inflicted wounds, acquired by bashing her head against walls and bed railings whenever she was in distress.

She still scratches at her own face when she is upset, but her meltdowns at the indignity of being put to bed when she is clearly exhausted have lost several magnitudes of intensity. Still, getting her back to sleep is a drawn-out process that in the middle of the night seems to stretch out to infinity.

What thoughts pass through our sleep-befuddled minds as we rock her, stroke her back, and silently recite snatches of Go The F*&! To Sleep to ourselves? Bits of half-memorized Tagalog, shopping lists, baseball plays, concert listings, the million-and-one items on our never-ending to-do lists that are considerably harder to complete on insufficient sleep.

And yet, when these days are finally behind us, we will surely miss them. As Jonathan Safran Foer muses in his latest novel, no parent knows when he will read his child his last bedtime story, or tuck her in to bed for the last time, or suddenly find herself barred from the nightly bath-time ritual. And Junebug – much more so than Munchkin when he was her age – leaves little doubt about how much she needs us.

Last night, for example, it took D about an hour between 3 and 4 a.m. to get Junebug to go back to sleep in her crib. An hour during which D alternated between rocking her in his arms while Junebug wrapped her little arms tight around him and nuzzled into the crook of his neck and stroking her back while Junebug lay gently sighing and whimpering in bed. The cords of D’s neck strained with the weight in equal proportion to the love that flooded his heart at Junebug’s warm snuggles.

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