There are many different five AM's. Times when you roll out of bed, staring at the alarm and thinking that there is no medal for beating the sun out of bed. Farmers, for example, see this illuminated time frequently. I see it occassionally, usually on mornings of exciting trips, when the goal is to drive for four hours and arrive somewhere at ten AM. Arrival is marked by the realization that my sleep hazed mind forgot to put on my pants. For that reason, and that reason only, I throw the suitcase in the car the evening before.
Today I saw a five AM I was introduced to a little over two years ago by my daughter. At least I remembered my pants for the trip to the Maternity ward. Five AM became a time of feedings. When she started sleeping through the night (four hours straight!) five AM became a time of checking. Well trained, I wandered across the hallway and tucked legs and arms back into the warmth of the blankets. The older she gets, the less frequently I find myself standing over her bed trying to remember the difference between blankets and body parts. This five AM was no such zombie-fied incident. A cold, a few head wonks, and too much caffeine (note-to-self: throw out Nannies soda pop after she leaves and before Cora finishes it) made one small uncomfortable child at bedtime yesterday.
Being a Mom, I worry. I wake up at 5 am and decide the house is too quiet, what with only the usual snores and odd japanese word drifting up from the pillow next to me. I roll out of bed and traipse across the hallway. There she is, arms and legs akimbo, in need of re-blanketing and still breathing. She looks peaceful, healthy, her body wrapped around that green blanket, and a stuffed puppy sharing her pillow with her feet. Her thumb slipped out of her mouth, leaving it bowed up in a delicate pucker. I sit down for a moment to watch.
There is this special five AM that belongs solely to children. It is the sleep you give up to ensure their survival that first year. It is the constant nighttime checks you make throughout their lives to ensure that they are indeed where you expect them to be, and that they are still breathing. It is that moment of peace when you can gaze down at them, un-blurred by movement, and forgive them all the misbehaving and mischief they accomplish during the day. Of course it belongs to Children. Nobody else was awake enough to claim it.