The other night I was in a deep sleep, when I was startled awake by the sound that is guaranteed to wake any mom, any time: a pitiful child’s voice quavering, “Moooommmmmm?” I fought my way to consciousness and looked around blearily. It was just beginning to be light – around 5 am, perhaps – and there were no children in my room. I listened carefully. No one was stirring. With my mommy senses I could tell that all my children were sleeping. I must have dreamed the voice. Only the cats were awake, and when they saw me stirring they jumped up onto the bed for a few lazy pats before I let myself relax and drift back to sleep.
A few minutes later, it happened again. Again the pitiful sound of a child squeaking, “Mooommmmm?” brought me to full alertness. Only this time I knew what it was. And fortunately, Mr. Fixit had also awoken and could back me up on this, because I was going to sound like a crazy person if I was the only witness.
It was the cat. Phoenix the girl cat, to be precise. She likes to wake me at 5 am for some quiet petting before the rest of the house awakes. I’ve learned to ignore the usual kind of meows while I’m sleeping, but now she’s learned to make the one sound that’s guaranteed to jolt me into full consciousness at any time. “Moooommmmm?”