I haven't posted in... whatever. Sue me. The child, she does not sleep.
I spent Thanksgiving with the usual assortment of relatives and refugees, mostly from Cameroon (the refugees, not the relatives, who are mostly from Ohio and California). I was talking to one of the men over dinner, and asked how long he had been in the U.S. Four years. I later asked if he had any children (I had my squirming, spitting child on my lap at the time) and he told me he has a five year old daughter. The last time he saw her, she was a baby, maybe just learning to walk and talk. Now she is a child, running around, talking a blue streak, in school. He hasn't seen her in four years and has no idea how long it may be before he sees her again. The red tape to bring her here is daunting - asylum hearings, expensive physicals, immigration interviews. He must bring here here; he cannot go visit her. He left his country and his daughter behind because he feared for his life. He feared that his government would imprison or kill him for doing things that are legal and championed in the U.S.
Each of the 10 or so refugees I dined with last Thursday has a similar story. So many aspects of what has happened to them are tragic, but I can't stop thinking about the children. Maybe it is having a daughter of my own that suddenly made it so real to me. I don't know how they made that choice, I don't know how they get through each day and month and year with no idea when they may be reunited with their families. I don't know how they stand the thought of their children growing up without a mother or father and I don't know how they find the strength to get up every day and struggle in the hopes of holding their children again.
And my problem? My child is too much with me. She keeps me awake by only wanting to sleep with me. She keeps me from doing laundry by only napping in my arms. I feel humbled, chastened. I keep thinking of these people I've met, and others like them, who would give everything they have for their child to keep them up all night. Who would gladly take my worst day with Mia and rejoice to have that same terrible day with their own child. Now when I lose my patience, when I am so tired and frustrated that I start snapping at my baby who is, after all, just being the baby she is, I try to remember these people who's fondest wish is to have what I disparage.
So tonight when Mia wakes me up (if she lets me go to sleep at all, which she didn't last night) I will try hard to be grateful for the opportunity to hold her and kiss her and rock her for hour after hour. I will try hard to rejoice in it, for those who cannot.