I've been told that there are miracle babies who sleep twelve hours straight through the night, enabling their mothers to rest. My son certainly wasn't one of them and judging from the dark circles under the eyes of almost every mother I know, I'm doubtful those babies and toddlers really exist. (Or maybe I did something wrong, and two years later continue to do something wrong.)

I can't help but admit my sense of anxiety so that I can sit down to work after he falls asleepWhen my son was younger, there was a time he would go to sleep without a fight, but that was before he learned how to jump out of his crib. If it's not one thing, it's another, and I still haven't found a real solution. I've had hours upon hours of discussions about this topic (my lack of sleep, how to get my child to sleep and stay asleep) with my husband and friends. I've read countless books and asked countless people for advice. Some suggestions have worked. But ideas that work for other mothers, don't work for me. And what's worked for me never seems to work for them. I think I've tried almost everything.

Every night, my toddler refuses to sleep unless either I or my husband lay down with him. I wouldn't mind if it didn't involve laying there for over an hour as he tries to tickle, pinch, and attack me, and of course, escape from his room. Also, I can't help but admit my sense of anxiety so that I can sit down to work after he falls asleep. I pray that he should go to sleep for the night, but it seems that I am not readily answered.

Last night however, something changed. Not with him, but with me. As I lay there, I perked up my ears and began to listen. My son was having a monologue. It's a ritual he does before falling asleep. He goes through all his favorite words, "Belly, slide, friends, fun, elephant, let's go!, nose, one, two, three…" At last he came to the words that melted my heart, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, I wuve (love) you." And then my heart really began to race with emotion when he sang, "Shemaaa Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad (Hear O Israel the L-rd is our G‑d, the L-rd is One)."

For the first time I realized, "Elana, this is spending quality time with your child. Instead of seeing it as a struggle and dreadful event, see it as a precious moment and enjoy it." Moments are only fleeting seconds, and in twenty years I'm not going to remember or miss the work I had to do or the clothes I had to iron or the cake I had to bake. I'm going to remember this moment and wish I had it back.

The Torah places a huge emphasis on teaching children, and the important role mothers play in the education of their children. When G‑d told Moses to give the Torah to the Jewish people (Exodus 19:3), He instructed Moses to do it in the following manner, "So shall you say to the house of Jacob and relate to the children of Israel." Our Sages tell us that the "house of Jacob" is the Jewish women, while the "children of Israel" are the Jewish men (Mechilta 19:3, cited by Rashi). Why does G‑d speak to the women first? Because, as our Sages tell us, the woman is the home, and the first opportunities for education and teaching conduct are in the home.

Last night however, something changed. Not with him, but with me.After the Second World War, Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman traveled throughout Europe searching for Jewish children that had been left for safekeeping in Catholic convents and orphanages. These children had lost their families in the Holocaust, and he was determined to find as many as possible and place them in Jewish homes. When he came upon one particular orphanage, the priest told him that he wouldn't find any Jews there, and if there were, he would need proof of their Jewish identity. Rabbi Kahaneman asked for permission to see the children. The priest allowed him to enter, knowing that the children would have no recollection of their Jewish roots after so many years of separation.

The rabbi walked into the sleeping quarters of the children and cried out, "Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad!" Suddenly, from throughout the room, certain children started stirring and sitting up in their beds. Cries of "Mameh" (Mother) and "Tatte" (Father) could be heard as the children remembered the familiar prayer their parents instilled in them years before. One by one, he was able to pick out the Jewish children while the gentile children remained sleeping.

Imagine the mothers who sat with these children before going to sleep each night, teaching them those precious words that later enabled them to return to their brethren. This true story came to mind when my little impossible sleeper sang these words that have come forth from Jewish lips for thousands of years. It still doesn't change the fact that he won't go to sleep on his own, but at least it helped me see bedtime in a new light. Afterwards, I kissed and hugged him and blessed him to have many children who will give him many sleepless nights.