I walk into Liam’s room at 2am, responding to his wails with a sippy cup of water and the reassurance that it’s nighttime, go back to sleep, it’s nighttime. Without the lights on the smell of vomit is stronger, and oh man I’m tired. I turn the light on to see how bad it is, try to assess if this is going to be an all-nighter. Every few months he does this, pukes once or twice during the night and then is perfectly fine in the morning.

So I’m shuffling around changing the sheets and stripping off clothes when I hear his stomach lurch an adult size lurch and before I can prepare for it I’m covered in vomit, working my way slowly to the bathroom while I rub his back. Slade is up, takes over the baby while I strip down out of my pajamas and drape myself in a towel to begin the vigil. We rock, he moans, stomach rumbles and a little puke. He’s bright eyed but pale and listless. He sits facing me with his legs wrapped around my waist, tiny fingers playing with the trim of my tank top. All the while he’s looking at me, barely blinking, so miserable but calm, focused. For a moment I’m reminded of us in the beginning when we were together in the middle of the night, him looking up at me while breastfeeding. Through his gaze, once again, I’m transported to wherever he came from. I see it all so clearly, so simply. This is not about him. This is not about me. This is about being called to serve something greater than either of us alone. I’m the caretaker of this spirit for this period of time. What a gift I have been given, what a raw and awesome gift. Being a mother is merely an opportunity for me to be in service to the universe; and it is no more clear to me than in this moment, waiting to be puked on. When he finally settles his head on my shoulder and wraps one arm up and over my neck, I rock. I rock until his breathing deepens into dreams. I close my eyes then and continue rocking, keeping time with all the mothers up tonight, all the mothers holding vigil for little spirits awakening in this world.

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