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Not Gonna Let ’em Catch the Midnight Rider

“Well, I’ve got to run to keep from hidin’,
And I’m bound to keep on ridin’.
And I’ve got one more silver dollar,
But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no,
Not gonna let ’em catch the Midnight Rider.”

And I've got one more silver dollar, But I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no, Not gonna let 'em catch the Midnight Rider.

When he’s lying like a little caterpillar in his tight swaddle, I look down at him.

And he looks up at me, or through me and around me, as is common with newborn vision. Milk drunk, safe, and secure. My little snug as a bug caterpillar in the falling light. I love to make him feel loved, as I’m sure he loves to be loved, but really he knows nothing else. Just warm arms, being passed around, fed from me, swaddled from Cassidy, and soft against Scarlet’s sweater.

Close to the middle of the night, he’s my Midnight Rider. We’ve settled into some sort of routine, which we all know doesn’t mean much with an 8-weeker. It might mean that we’ve had two days in a row of the same thing. In this case, around 8pm or so, I get so tired I either ask for a nap or just take one. Sleep swallows me whole these days, without a warning sign. One minute I’m here and the next minute I’m there, in deep enough to dream. Of entire cities and worlds and galaxies. Meanwhile, the baby is swaddled in the bassinet downstairs and he falls in deeply too. Deep enough, I hope, to dream of entire cities and worlds and galaxies where anything and everything is possible. Then he wakes up in the midnight hour to eat. THIS is my Midnight Rider.

Feeding by the light of the Christmas tree.

And I've got one more silver dollar, But I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no, Not gonna let 'em catch the Midnight Rider.

Then I bring him upstairs to the bedroom bassinet and deposit him as gently as I can in the midnight hour. I sink down near him for three hours or so, sometimes more and sometimes less, and then my Witching Hour Rider wakes up hungry again. He never gets frantic, because I answer his call in a somewhat timely fashion, although I have been known to sink further under the covers to sink further into sleep and dreams, and he will root around and whimper and whine for a few minutes. Then I pick him up in deft fashion and talk to him. “Shh..” I say. “It’s ok.” “I’m here.” There’s no way, in the Witching Hour(s), to wrap my head around not being there. It’s too horrific a thought to imagine him waking up to someone and something else. So I feed him, re-deposit him a bit clumsily, and sink once again into the marshmallow clouds of fuzzy sleep.

Even the darkest nights bring the brightest dawns. Even now.

Even nights of physical pains, aches, and nightmares. Sleeplessness and crying. His. Mine.

The 7am Rider smiles up at me in the rising sun. He still can’t quite make out my face but the shapes and sounds are enough for him. His smile is goofy with his tongue a little out. I kiss his forehead and with his newborn vision, his eyes cross trying to figure out where and what I am.

He gazes out the window at the tall trees and stark skies to recalibrate.

I take this opportunity to talk to him, about how he’s a happy boy and a loved boy and a whimpering and whining boy, but a loved boy. I take this opportunity to tell him that there is so much wonder in him and around him and I can’t wait to do it all with him. All of it. It’s a swirling ball of life and love and pain and adventure, and we’re signed up for it. We are registered and enrolled. Sign me up to take this kid on shooting stars adventures, all the while, laughing and crying and loving, while he lives in the bliss/chaos of our family’s love. Both fierce and gentle.

Molding and forming and cracking and smoothing over; a perfectly imperfect clay heart.

And I've got one more silver dollar, But I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no, Not gonna let 'em catch the Midnight Rider.

Another day spins around us; and we – with it. How dare they say time moves quickly! 8 weeks? More like 8 eons. How dare they say that time drags on! I can feel it swirling and spinning, measured in another outgrown pair of shoes, a pregnancy growing and then a body healing, a pandemic rising and a vaccine already made. We find moments that stand still; quiet in the chaos. I tell him about that, like how sometimes I’m too excited to sleep, because I’m already excited for a simple breakfast the next day. Or a new coffee flavor. Time expands and contracts; I find myself going through another day, and facing another night. There, I meet new dreams.

And I once again meet my Midnight Rider.

“Midnight Rider” was song #2 on our birthing playlist.

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12 Comments

  1. Omg, I am sitting here holding back tears just how sweet your words here are for your little guy. Rider is just adorable and what a special time and bond you have with him right now at this point in both your lives. Hugs <3

  2. That is one of your father and my favorite songs from back in the day. We drove one sultry summer evening to watch The Allman Brothers in Central Park at the Schaefer Park Music Festival. Little did we know that fifty years later, a beautiful baby boy would be born to carry that name and the name of his father and my grandfather . Ah, destiny, you torture and tantalize me.

  3. What a beautiful post, Tamara. And rider now has so much hair! I love it!!

    Isn’t time a funny thing? In the thick of those early months I thought “who are these crazy people who say it goes so fast!?” Now that those early days are behind me I wonder if I enjoyed them enough. She’s so much bigger now! But still so small, it’s all weird.

    Rider is precious. I love your family unit and that you have each other and so much love in this home and during these crazy times ❤️

  4. I had a pretty strong hunch that you would compose a future blog around this song title Tamara and here it is! I’ve read this over and over. So beautifully written, and pictures every bit as beautiful with a classic song, The one of Scarlet, Des, and Rider is one that l’m saving. Pics like these you want to catch and not let them get away!

  5. Oh those sleepless, barely holding it together nights and days with a new baby. I miss them, but don’t ever want to live them again. So I will happily watch your cute little baby grow and do his thing. This time with a new baby is a wonderful, but also oh so very hard time to keep your brain straight. Stay strong. Hugs to all of you!

  6. Not easy to have your sleep interrupted so often, but you have the total right perspective. It is temporary, you are nourishing life, he is adorable. Wishing you longer and longer spells of sleep as Rider continues to grow. Loving that photo of the three of them:)

  7. Oh Tamara this is so beautiful, I was wondering if you would going to center a post around those lyrics. I can’t believe how big he’s getting already. And look at those huge eyes!

  8. Rider has such a sweet face! And that is a great Allman Brothers song!
    I remember enjoying those middle of the night together times that gave me and my baby another chance to bond and be together! I love that you are enjoying your midnight moments with Rider!

  9. Oh, the most precious little midnight rider. And, I love the Christmas sweaters! I love that song so much. I have Greg Allman’s version of it on a well worn Laid Back album. (I think it’s the best version of that song, but my son disagrees.)

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