The Nights Are Long

By Ginger Hughes

The nights are long.

When you’re finally home, hospital bracelet still on your wrist and your sweet infant girl cries all night. When you try everything you know to soothe her and nothing seems to work, and eventually the tears of joy you expected become tears of exhaustion and frustration.

The nights are long.

When you rock, soothe and sing lullabies all to no avail, and that bassinet you chose with such care sits empty, while you walk the length of your home, shushing and swaying, and praying sleep will come.

The nights are long.

When the fever is high, his eyes usually dancing with delight, are dull and weary. When his little body is wracked with sickness and you don’t know what’s wrong. When you call the 24-hour nurse line or research symptoms online, only to end up terrified.

The nights are long.

When we lie awake at night wondering if our babies, now children, are making friends at school. Our bodies are exhausted from the day, yet our minds still churn with questions: are they adjusting, are they happy, have we taught them enough to navigate these new experiences?

The nights are long.

When the ones who once filled our backseat with more questions and songs than our ears could digest, now, a few years later, scroll their phones quietly instead. When the eyes once filled with amusement and laughter are now rolled skyward more often than we’d like, and we sit there wondering if all is well in their world. We try, but at times feel unable to find our way into the heart of things.

The nights are long.

When she’s out on a date and you wonder if all the things you’ve taught her, and all the conversations you’ve had with her, will be enough. When he’s out with his friends and you hope he'll be a leader rather than a follower, and that the heart to hearts will be lived out now that the decisions are his to make. When the car is packed and your eyes hold hers through that window one last time as she pulls away.

Yes. The nights are long.

But the years?

Oh, the years are short.

When the little bundle that once wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet is now too long to fit, and you lay her gently in the cot instead.

The years are short.

When the tiniest hand that once clutched your finger so tightly, releases your hand readily and walks towards the first day of kindergarten.

The years are short.

When our babies, who were just cooing, snuggling and filling their fists with our hair are now curling, straightening and styling their own.

The years are short.

When the one you thought would never sleep, would now sleep until noon if you let him.

The years are short.

When you see the hand, that just yesterday learned to wave while you encouragingly said, “Say bye-bye,” waving goodbye as she drives away.

The years are short.

When our littles become our bigs; When our way becomes their way; When our love is stretched to the point of aching . . .

We will remember . . .

That the nights were so very long. But the years are so very short.


Ginger Hughes is a mother of two, the wife of a pastor and a part-time accountant. Connect with her on Facebook.

Reprinted, with permission, from www.nomamasperfect.com.


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