I run very fast on my merry-go-round in my dreams.

“I run very fast on my merry-go-round in my dreams.”
Cai Woolsey, age 5




His cry echoes through the house.

Seriously? I think as I lug myself out of bed to go to my preschool baby. I can tell by his tone that he’s not distressed, so I’m less motivated than usual to come as commanded. It’s the middle of the night. I just Want. To. Sleep.

I shuffle into his room, and I sit down on the corner of his bed, scraping the back of my heel on the metal bedframe that’s jutting out ever-so-slightly past the ill-fitting box spring. I remember I meant to fix that.

Cai is sitting straight up as though pulled suddenly to life by a puppet master. I put my hand on the back of his head at the top of his neck, and I cradle it as I lay my forehead against his.

I do this to communicate that I love him. And that I’m very tired. It’s my loving ploy for sympathy, and it never, ever works.

I whisper, “What do you need, baby? You’re supposed to be A. Sleep.”

I don’t know why I can’t casually say the word “asleep” to my kids in the middle of the night. I insist on making it two words, as though separating the syllables will force them to bend to my will.

Fall. A. Sleep. 

I make sure my eyes are just a little too wide and a lot too crazy because, even though they can’t actually see my expression in the dull green glow of the nightlight, I believe that putting kids back to sleep in the middle of the night requires method acting. I immerse myself in my character. Frazzled, exhausted mama who uses the words A and Sleep with a hitch of a pause in between them. I don’t, after all, want my kids to feel like I cheated them out of a world class performance when it’s within my power to deliver one.

Cai ignores my admonishment. It’s method acting for the child, too, I guess.

And then he delivers his message.

“MOM!” He stage whispers, hot breath on my face. “MOM, guess what? I run very fast on my merry-go-round in my dreams.

Cai, despite the hour and his awaking only moments before, is full of excitement. He’s SO PROUD.

And I can’t help but think that I run very fast on MY merry-go-round, too. And not always in my dreams. I run very fast on my merry-go-round of life. And sometimes that dizzy, panicky run wakes me up in the middle of the night. But usually not in the good, I just ran really FAST and THEREFORE I am AWESOME kind of a way. Which is really very shortsighted of me.

I think that sometimes angels from Heaven whisper to our babies while they’re sleeping. Messages for them. And messages for their mommies.

I know of no other way to explain the wisdom of the child who breathes life into his mama in the middle of the night with his divine vision.

“I run very fast on my merry-go-round in my dreams.”

He didn’t know, not completely, what I meant when I whispered back to him, “Oh, baby. Thank you for telling me. Me, too. And isn’t it FUN?


ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. This reminds me of the movie “Parenthood” when the grandmother is discussing loving roller coasters to describe life.

  2. Boy did I need this today. Because I am looking at the week ahead, and it includes getting up at 3:15 every morning to deliver newspapers, then coming home to straighten a little and get ready for my real job, and commuting and working, and commuting back, and not seeing my husband or my son enough, and then on Saturday, when I can crawl back into bed after my paper route, and sleep for as long as Gabe will let me on that one day I won’t be able to, because a newly appointed elder at church would like to come visit us on that one day that I can sleep, and then later on we have soccer, and so on and so on and you can only imagine how my house must look, and there are legos everywhere, etc. etc. etc.

    Indeed. I need to enjoy the run/ride because it is what it is at this point in time.

    1. Aw. Thanks, Cathie, for taking the time to stop the merry-go-round and encourage me, too. One good turn deserves another, eh? And on the “boy did I need this today,” I TOTALLY agree.

  3. Oh, yes. Wonderful reminder. We used to love that dizzy, out-of-control feeling. And now it just makes us feel sick. Tomorrow (or tonight, if my now-sleeping kids wake up), I’ll try to remember to enjoy the feeling of running fast on my merry-go-round. Thank you!

    1. Here’s hoping for an invigorating ride rather than a nauseous one. 😉 Thanks, Kristi. (And anyone who wants to read more about 5 kids math / nausea should click on the link to your blog. Hehehe.)

  4. You are a wonderful person Beth…thanks for reminding me how much I LOVED the merry-go-round!

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