I can’t sleep. It’s not the time change. Not really. I never really can sleep; not in the way that the sleep informers would advise. Elliott slept through the night at two months old. Once Sam came along, the cosleeping, nursing, happy-even-at-two-in-the-morning second child, my sleep habits changed. Sam began to sleep through the night once Gabriel arrived a bit more than three years later, and then things got a little out of hand with the subsequent children, most of whom had very different ideas for what happens during the deep hours of darkness.
It’s not always the children, or swirling thoughts associated therein, that interrupt or forbid my sleep. Sometimes, it’s bats. Years ago, one of my foster daughters informed me that she was “part bat.” I cannot speak to the truth of that statement, because that very night, there was a bat circling my bedroom. I don’t remember whose turn it was to trap this one, but by the time we released it and I ventured down the hall to check the children, my sweet girl was sleeping peacefully. I am not sure if she reentered through a crack in the wall, or if it was just a coincidence, and I will never know.
At our old house by the university, we once spotted a bat in the bathtub. One of the boys (probably close to teenage at the time) had been using the bathroom earlier. “Oh, that? I thought it was a piece of poop.”
Which would not, actually, be all that odd in our home. I like using something called “Black Soap” for my black children. It seems to be quite beneficial for their skin. In the chaos of boats, overzealous splashing, and the fight for who “gets out first,” I left some Black Soap on the edge of the tub. It was, of course, identified as poop but not wiped up. I am actually grateful that it wasn’t, though, because Black Soap is not very easy to come by.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
That’s a quote from Antoine de St.-Exupery’s timeless classic, “The Little Prince,” which happens to be my favorite book, as it was long before most of my life began happening to me. I am reminded of this message every time a new child comes to my home. We are all regular people. We all have a story. We can all look in the mirror and, over time, begin to see what we stand for. The smallest, most fragile child is a person whose life has deep meaning.
If I open my mouth, if I speak my mind, will this…can this…change the outcome of a given situation? Will it be better or worse? Will we even know? There are times when we are not up to the task. Not right now. Does that mean that we will ever be? What if she really is a bat? What if I really am a bat?
Maybe the time change was keeping me from sleep. Maybe it was our little one who, at four, is wakeful at times each night, and who crawled into our bed to wedge his elbows and heels into our backs. Scratching, flapping, and a little breeze. A bat. In winter. Wherever you are, little girl, I hope you are happy. You have so much to share.