Kids are terrifying. They just are. Or rather, being a parent is terrifying because you never know what your kid will accidentally eat next, and whether you should call poison control.
But there is a special kind of terror that comes with nighttime parenting. I’ve never been a particularly light sleeper. Something changed, however, five-and-a-half years ago when I became a mother. Particularly when our son was evicted to his own bedroom and I slept next to a baby monitor instead. First-time motherhood taught me to wake to every static pop and crackle, so six years later here we are. Since then I’ve experienced middle of the night wakings. Here they are ranked from least- to most-gut-wrenching.
A coughing child waking for water or medicine scares you awake with their violent, uninhibited coughing spurts that may make you pee a little when jolted awake, but usually you can hear them coming from a mile away and can prepare yourself.
The Swamp Thing
This one usually comes with a warning cry, but there’s the terror of walking to the culprit’s room to access the damage and find the landing spot of said bodily fluids. All hope is lost if that spot includes a beloved blanket or stuffed animal typically required for sleep.
One night when pregnant with our third child, I woke up in the middle of the night and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. Standing in the kitchen, I saw slight movement from the corner of my eye. Without my glasses I couldn’t make out much else besides the pile of blankets in the basket next to our couch. And how the basket had two hands laying on top of it.
And how it began to move.
Carrie Taylor is a freelance writer, editor and mother of three.