Two children ago I gave up trying to keep the chair’s slip cover in place. It was hard to believe someone paid money for this orange corduroy chair once, but I’m sure it looked breathtaking in their living room atop some avocado carpeting. It came to me as a hand-me-down and ended up in the nursery, obviously not for its looks, but for its comfort.
It had soft arms just the right height for nursing a baby and enough wings on the side to support my head when I fell asleep with a baby in my arms. It was the perfect chair for long nights.
With my firstborn, I thought the nights would never end. It seemed she woke every two hours just because she missed me. I would rock her, and when I wasn’t staring at her innocence, I would stare out the window praying for the sun to rise. In the morning, my husband would awake and we could talk. I could call my own mother on the phone. We could go to story hour at the library. I wouldn’t be alone and exhausted beyond functionability.
And then one night my fingers were tracing the corduroy lines of the chair. In the dark I could almost forget it was ugly orange. I started wondering if another mother had spent as much time as I had in this chair. Maybe she also spent long nights with her children holding them through the belly aches of colic, ear infections, Clifford books and pajama party rituals.
Maybe she liked orange. Or maybe the chair was a gift.
In my mind, she became a real character. And from her, a whole community grew. I realized I was not the only woman awake at night caring for a child. Everywhere there were other mothers awake at night with their babies. I was not alone.
And anytime I started to feel sorry for myself in my 3:00 a.m. weariness, I would think about them. Pray for them. And maybe somewhere out there, someone was praying for me too. And if they were making it, then I could too.
Our orange corduroy boat would sail each evening and even if the boat was sinking, we were all together.
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