This. Now.

I breathe the words in and out, rocking Mark O at 2 am. At 4:30. Picking up your baby calms him, scientists say. There is nothing difficult about most childcare tasks, but the sheer volume and on-demand nature of them occasionally swallows me up.

M and I did some yoga yesterday; we listened to a podcast while the children were napping. Well, Laurel was supposed to be napping, but instead she banged at the safety gate at the top of the stairs and shouted periodically, until savasana, when her calls reached a feverish pitch. The meditation of the practice was breathe in "This," breathe out "Now." It was almost comical because even as the teacher guided us through the poses, she was getting distracted and telling rambly anecdotes while we strained to hold warrior 2, and Laurel was shouting. But then she said that she had a sleeping baby too, and that we must commit fully to each pose because it could be the last one we could do, before we had to go and attend to someone. This. Now. I took the words to heart and found some new strength in not thinking about how long the practice would last and if I would get it all done.

I thought of the words again, later, when everyone else was asleep but me. Sleep when the baby sleeps, they tell you, which just seems like silly advice during the day when there is always a stack of dishes or a mountain of laundry. Or when you have a three year old that is only occasionally also asleep when the baby is. But at night, I feel guilty and anxious when I can't sleep. I should be sleeping. What is wrong with me? How will I feel tomorrow? I get caught up in the results of not sleeping, and I become more and more awake as I think about how I'll be tired tomorrow. Next week. Next month, until this phase is over.

I say the words. This. Now. And suddenly, I have permission to make a cup of tea, and write a bit. To listen to the quiet breathing of the rest of my family and the police siren off in the distance. Three am is very peaceful, and I am soon ready to crawl back into bed and enjoy every moment that is left of the night.

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