The Other End of the Candle

3:45 a.m. I had been awake for hours, too uncomfortable to sleep, the babe in my womb kicking and the thoughts in my head swirling. I came downstairs and switched on my computer, hoping to get some of my thoughts out on paper—something about how important it is to treasure every moment spent with your young children, despite mounds of laundry, endless diaper changes and the occasional tantrum. Kids grow up too

I opened my word processing program, ready to write a masterpiece that would minister to the hearts of mothers everywhere.


It could only mean one thing. Someone had either fallen or jumped out of bed. Either way, at 3:50 a.m., one of the girls was awake.

“Mama, we’re bof hungry.”

It wasn’t one of the girls. It was two of them. I brought them downstairs and gave them some apple slices. After all, I was hungry too.

By the time I tucked them back into bed half an hour later, all semblance of rational thinking had fled. I sat and listened to the birds chirp their early morning songs while I tried to recompose my thoughts. Something about how, in between mounds of laundry, endless diaper changes, occasional tantrums … oh, and midnight snacks …


Little footsteps creaked down the stairs. Just one set this time.

“Mommy, I just want to tell you somefing. I don’t want to go to sleep because I don’t like when I heered a sound outside and I didn’t know what it was.”

“It’s just the birds chirping. Go to bed.”

“They want to come inside our house! They think we’re birds too!” she giggled. I stared at her blankly. Preschoolers can be difficult to make sense of at the best of times, let alone at 4:30 in the morning.

“Mama?” she continued unfazed. “I can’t see where I’m going up the stairs.”

“Okay. I’ll come back upstairs with you and tuck you in.”

4:40 a.m. The babe in my womb had finally settled down and all was quiet on the floor above. I stared at the computer screen in front of me, trying to come up with even a semblance of rational thought. Nothing. My eyes were heavy.

Forget it, I thought. If I go to bed now, I can squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep – enough to deal with the morning’s allotment of laundry, diapers and two tired little girls who are sure to be cranky.

With a sigh, I switched off the computer and grabbed a blanket, not even attempting to muster the energy to climb back upstairs. The couch would suffice. My deep and insightful literary masterpiece (what was it about again?) would have to wait for another day.


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