Holding On

It is dark and quiet in my bedroom as I ease my soul from sleep to wakefulness. I blink in the darkness and try to remember what day it is. It is just moment or two and my mind slips into fast forward. Has yesterday's ice storm closed schools? More importantly, has it canceled after school activities, delivering me from a whirl that I dread? What else is on the schedule for the day? I feel a vague sense of restlessness. We've been talking a lot around here lately about making some big changes. No decisions. No action. Just a lot of restless talk.

It's time to get up. If I hope to have any time at all to myself in the quiet, I must get up now. I extricate myself from the limbs of the baby, careful to keep the covers tucked and not to let in the cold. I'm careful not roll too far the other way, lest I awaken Katie, who sleeps there. I slip out off the end of the bed and nearly step on Nicky's head. And then, I trip over Stephen. Everyone, including my husband, slumbers on.

Mike was gone for an extended trip in the weeks preceding the Super Bowl. My children were on edge the whole time he was gone, unsettled by the knowing that it would be long time until he returned. Early in his absence, Katie reclaimed the co-sleeper that was her baby bed. It's attached to the side of our bed and is much, much too small for her, but she insisted. Since Karoline has never had much use for it--preferring instead to sleep on top of me--I let Katie sleep there. But just for tonight, then you go back to your big bed. This won't be a habit. Yeah, right. She climbed in that bed, snuggled under the covers, and asked, "Will you hold my hand until I fall asleep?" That was three weeks ago. Isn't it conventional wisdom that it takes three weeks to form a habit?

I'm not sure what these boys are doing on the floor; they crept in after Mike returned home. Do they sense that their father and I are talking about changes? Is this the natural order of things? Is this how we were created? In times of insecurity, times of instability, do we naturally gravitate towards the physical presence of our father? Are we created to take our mother's hand when we are worried? I look at the rested faces of my children as they rise from the jumbled linens of their sleep. I see that they are peaceful and certain despite the predicted chaos of the day. And I resolve that tonight, as Katie takes my hand, I will put the other one firmly in the grasp of Our Lady. And as my boys take comfort in the sound of their daddy's breathing, I will echo the cadence, Our Father, who art in heaven, thy will be done. Together, we will all sleep, holding on.