5am

I hear a small quiet voice and feel the tap of Zola’s hand on my cheek. “Mommy?”

We’ve been potty training her for the last two weeks and she’s had four successful nights of going without her diaper, waking us up in the middle of the night if she’s needed to go. I’ve felt my heart grow with pride in these last couple of days and am reminded that my little girl is growing up.

“Do you need to go to the toilet, baby?” I ask, and in the dimly lit room I see her little silhouette nod a confirmation. I’m throwing high fives in my head, celebrating that we’re going through another successful night diaper-free when I realise that tonight, we’re too late. The tutu she fell asleep in is wet. 

“Oh no,” she hears me whisper and looks up, at the same instant she touches her finger to her upper lip; a nervous tick she’s had for awhile. I realise my mistake and immediately pick her up. “It’s ok, baby. Let’s get changed.” Accidents happen and I sit in the dark changing my two and half year old while she quietly wonders what happened to her tutu. Isn’t every kid allowed this bedtime faux pas? It even took her four whole nights to do it. I lean into her face and tell her again that it’s ok.

I finish changing Zola and hear Ari stir in his cot, his little face peering through the bars with sleepy (and accusing) eyes questioning our late night activity. I break the news to Zola. “Ari’s awake.” 

She allows me to set her down as she sends a sleepy “Hi, boy…” his way. He smiles. The same greeting he always gives his sister. I reach for his cuddly frame and take both the kids to wake Kevin.

“Zola wet her bed, babe.” Instinctively, he reaches out for her and tells her he’ll fix it. It’s 515am when he gets up to pull her sheets off and takes the mattress to the balcony to clean and dry while I cajole the kids back to sleep.

By the time the fuss settles, it’s almost 6am and we fall asleep to the peaceful breaths of the babies lying between us.

As parents we often mark milestones like clapping hands, sitting up, crawling, laughing out loud, and saying their first words. How often do we take note of the nights that break our hearts a little, but just enough, that it reveals a little more of the inexplicable love that we are capable of? 

To many more hand claps and broken hearts.