Car Games and Baby Nights

By Veronica

My parents were dedicated to the family vacation. Every summer we would pile into the family vehicle and strike off for parts unknown. Grandparents, old family friends and places of historic interest usually made up our itenerary.

The car rides were always long, and my mom would buy me paperbacks to keep me entertained. But when the books ran out, my sister and I would play the alphabet game. From the signs on the side of the road or, in a pinch, form the license plates on the cars around us, we would find each letter, going consecutively through the alphabet. It was always a race to see who could find the next letter first.

Some letters presented challenges. There are not many roadsigns with Q. Sometimes it took hours of driving before we found the letter Q. As we grew more practiced at this game, we remembered which of the small Illinois towns we drove through had the rare and precious letter, and we would wait for that large Nestle Quik ad painted on a building on main street, an alphabetic oasis for two girls on a quest.

Our youngest daughter was born three weeks ago, bringing our grand total to four. She is a good sleeper for a baby, and I get enough sleep to function. But I am still tired, and my older girls are forced to take an undesired nap every day so that I can close my eyes for an extra half-hour or so.

When my first daughter was born, older women always commanded me to “Enjoy this time.” Everyone told me that babies grow up too fast, and someday I would miss the chance to hold my baby. I knew these admonitions were well-intended, but the advice of the well-slumbered is never that welcome to the sleep-deprived. Sleeplessness is difficult, and, like the pain of childbirth, most of us forget just how awful it was once the sleepless period is over.

Here with my fourth and final baby, I do not have unrealistic expectations of how perfectly I will cherish this time. I do not coo incessantly over my final baby, desperately treasuring each passing, unrepeatable millisecond. Instead, I find myself marking time like I did playing that car game with my sister. I am enjoying the ride, but I keep half an eye on the road, conscious that a little farther up the road will be my chance to catch the Q, and then I will sleep.

Veronica Mitchell blogs at Toddled Dredge.

9 Responses to Car Games and Baby Nights
  1. Tonggu Momma
    September 30, 2008 | 11:34 am

    Only you, Veronica… amazingly well-written post, as usual… from someone who tends to miss seeing the letter Q.

  2. Jen
    September 30, 2008 | 11:39 am

    I hear ya. My third and probably final baby is 4 months and I still haven’t found that Q of sleeping through the night yet! But I’m definitely keeping my eyes out for it.

  3. Alison
    September 30, 2008 | 12:07 pm

    So true. I need plenty of sleep to function even at a minimal level, so not being able to sleep through the night was so hard. Fortunately, my second child was a pretty decent sleeper from the beginning, and now is a great sleeper. I am enjoying this stage more than the newborn days, and I don’t regret looking forward to this time when I have (slightly) more sleep.

  4. Kelly
    October 2, 2008 | 11:35 pm

    I think I found the Q. But now I’m stuck on Z. Teyla was sleeping soundly through the night at two months. But now, at eight months, she’s up quite a bit again.

    Motherhood is full of ups and downs. Plus, I keep forgetting what letter I need next.

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    November 12, 2008 | 8:42 pm


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