Nine hours in a car have a unique ability to make you tired after having done absolutely nothing. I mean, you sat and sat for nearly a full day. You didn't do wind sprints or burpees or move heavy things from shelf to shelf. You sat down, ate M&Ms, drank three Diet Cokes and nine hours later you wound up at a hotel.
Thankfully I have the talent of Sleep Anywhere Quickly. Seated, reclined, prostrate; on a bed, in a car, on a plane; in your house, in my house, in a hotel, in a Waffle House (unproven). No matter where or what position, if it's after 10 PM, I'm fairly certain that I can get to sleep fast.
This comes in handy on the few nights a year I share a bed with my daughter. While still early on, I'm not entirely certain she has inherited my Sleep Anywhere Quickly gene. But she's working on it.
Not wanting to sleep solo in a big queen bed that is right next to Mommy and Daddy's big queen bed, I joined her for the evening. The bedspread and pillows took a back seat to stuffed animals, books, toys, and any other thing she could find that had to also sleep alongside us. After some late night (for her, so like, 8:30 PM) TV, the three of us turned off the light and said our good-nights.
We talked for a while, and then she burrowed.
I, lying on my sliver of bed as close to the edge as one can get without actually going over said edge, felt a tiny head puncture the big of my back (I don't know if "big of my back" is a medical phrase, like small of one's back is, but in this case, I simply mean it to be upper back). The top of her head burrowed perfectly between two of my vertebrae so that I awoke resolutely, but not in a startled way. There was no pain, just the distinct feeling you get when someone is half-asleep and trying to burrow in or under you.
Her legs scurried, trying to get her closer to me. Wanting warmth or comfort - or perhaps both - she burrowed for a minute more before her deep breathing resumed and she was ready for another few hours of sleep.
I was trapped between my offspring and springing off the bed. Sleep Anywhere Quickly comes with its caveats, one of them assuming a reasonably comfortable position. For me, this is on my right side or my back. Finding myself as the den in which my progeny burrowed allowed for neither.
I tried to subtly shift my weight, looking for a place for my left arm to rest. As I shifted, so did my mole-daughter, and we eventually ended up with me on my back and her in my arms. This lasted for a good two hours before she again needed to burrow to remain asleep, this time choosing my armpit, which at this stage in her life is perfectly head-sized, meaning she can aim the crown of her skull directly into the most sensitive part of my armpit, causing me to want to react with a yelp that is a combination of being stabbed and being tickled.
We adjusted again and she burrowed again. Our dance continued until just shy of 6 AM. The drawback of Sleep Anywhere Quickly is that once the tiredness is gone, there is no sleeping whatsoever. Lying in bed becomes wasted time and one with this talent/disease may as well get up and make coffee, write, read, or begin the day's woodworking. Or, in this case, see if one's burrowing daughter is also awake then gently wake the Great Sleeping Wife who has the opposite of Sleep Anywhere Quickly and hit the road to Grandmom and Granddad's house.
This won't be the last time we share a bed, my daughter and I. And whether it turns out she has full blown Sleep Anywhere Quickly or just some strain of it, I hope she doesn't stop the burrowing. I hope she knows that she can sink her head in my back or my armpit or my arms whenever the need calls for it, be it an unfamiliar night in a hotel, the tragedy of a broken heart, the occasion of a missed expectation, or the deep grief that comes with a meaningful loss.
And I hope I can be the dad that serves as a great burrowing place, sacrificing sleep or comfort or plans for the chance to be warmth, the possibility of feeling like a home, the opportunity to be needed.
This is the sacrifice of family, then. Family doesn't say, "You needs can be met if my needs are met, too."
Family doesn't say, "Your needs can be met if my needs are met next."
Family simply says, "Your needs can be met."
Because in the meeting of the needs of those we love - be they children, partners, parents, or friends - we'll find our needs are always met, too. We need to be burrowed into as much as we need to burrow.