Here’s something that I freely admit: I was 22 years old before I stopped hiding underneath my blankets during thunderstorms at night.
And when I say that I was hiding under my blankets, I mean it. I was burrowed underneath every layer with pillows stacked on top with my hands clamped over my eyes and my thumbs drilled into my ears.
I didn’t want to see it.
I especially didn’t want to hear it. I did this as a child. I did it as a teenager. I did it as a single Airman living by myself in my dorm in Germany. It wasn’t until the spring of 2003, when I was married and six months pregnant with Miss C, that I stopped. I remember the exact moment of my realization, too. I was in Ohio alone visiting my family at the time, sleeping in my parents’ guest room, when a violent Midwest storm whipped around the house.
I was terrified. I didn’t have enough blanket for adequate protection. I wanted my husband.
I wanted my parents.
I was just about to heft my big, pregnant self out of bed and go seek out my family when it dawned on me that I was about to become a parent myself in a few months, and I needed to suck it up and get over it.
So that was that.
I’m no longer terrified of thunderstorms at night, but I do regularly jump out of my skin thanks to my kids and my pets.
Both make the strangest, most random noises throughout the night, and it terrifies me. I can’t prepare for it like I could during a thunderstorm, when the rain tipped me off to duck under the pillow.
Nope. It always seems to happen when the night is most dark and the house is most quiet.
I get a random yelp or scream.
I get the muffled conversations between them and whoever is appearing in their dreams. (That’s the most unnerving.)
I get the sound of footsteps coming from down the hall, thanks to my cats who are heavy enough to make the wooden floors creak.
I get doors slamming as the dog scampers around the house, chasing who-knows-what. (Ghosts? Probably.)
I get dolls dropping off the side of the bed as the girls kick them off in their sleep. It’s bad because Lola’s water baby is the weight of an actual baby. You can imagine how that causes me to bolt to the nursery, thinking Jaz somehow levitated up and out of his crib before plummeting to the floor. That is, after all, the most logical explanation of the noise immediately popping into my head.
And then there’s the absolute worst: when one my kids actually sleepwalks into our room and just stands next to the bed, staring at me with eyes open, but not really seeing anything.
Usually, I’m asleep when this happens. Something stirs me awake, and then BAM … I pop open my eyes and scream as my child stands there silent like a horror movie.
My scream usually startles her enough to speak, and it’s always the same: “Mom, can I sleep with you guys? I’m scared of the dark.”
No kidding, kid. So am I.
Come on in.