My eyelids close. I fall into a deep sleep. I'm exhausted from a long day. I begin to dream. Someone is coughing in my dream. I awake and realize it's Elias. I soothe his throat with water and his fevered head with medicine.
My bed is still warm when I get back in, and my eyes begin to feel heavy again. The monitor makes a crackle sound and then Pia begins to cry. I numb her swollen teething gums and nurse her back to sleep. By this time my bed is cold. I slide under the sheets and fall asleep next to my husband's warmth.
"Mommy, mommy, I threw up." Vitali wakes me up with a soft and confused cry. I change his sheets and pajamas and put him back to bed.
My night continues on with intervals of sleep, changing sheets, doses of Tylenol, and teething gel. And somewhere in between it all, Aaron apologizes for it being such a difficult night. I had thought about it already, everything within me wanted to feel sorry for myself and blame my children for my lack of sleep. But I chose joy instead. I responded to Aaron with a gentle voice, "I'm just glad they're mine and I have them to take care of."
When I stop and think about all the things I love, all my hobbies, and things I do to get a "mommy break", I am reminded that none of these things are more important than my family.
Today I have my children. I have no control over their lives and how long I have them, or how fast they grow up; but I do have control over my thoughts and actions. I can choose joy over self-pity.