5:23 a.m.

No matter how often it happens, the baby’s cries on the monitor always awaken me with a jolt. Over several months, my sleeping patterns have gradually adjusted to consistent waking at night, but this shrill sound is always off putting. Something has changed, though, and my reaction has softened.

Once resistant to these nocturnal interruptions, I’ve become more malleable. They are no longer a personal affront, but rather, a sacred duty.

I’m tired, so very tired, but it’s alright.

I cross the house in my nightly pilgrimage to the nursery, and search for the fallen paci in the dark. My hands locate it with ease and as I return it to a whimpering mouth, silence ensues. I rest my hand on her chest for a few moments so she knows she’s not alone.

I pick up the pillow and blanket I keep near the crib and lie down on the floor. Instead of angrily calculating how little time until my alarm will sound, as I did for weeks, I lay on my back and listen to her soft snores. I enjoy the quiet darkness.

Motherhood remains the Hardest Thing Ever. Lord, is it hard.

But it fits me now–like a second, invisible skin. I finally get it. I recognize that this work–this endless and exhausting and thankless work–is my greatest purpose and privilege.

This love is a forceful energy and I am grateful.

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