I have it pretty easy when it comes to the bedtime routine. Yes, I repeat myself endlessly and sometimes have to step out the room to count to ten. However, it’s guaranteed that between the hours of seven and eight my mini me’s will be in bed and quiet. But something changed a few weeks ago, the littlest one become scared of something and was constantly get up or screaming “Mummy” from beneath her sheets. To say it got my back up a little would be an understatement, she was really cutting into my adult time. I have some classy (crappy) TV to watch. Does she not understand I’ve been with her all day and need to tune out?! It’s not like she’s alone in the room, there are two other kids there….she is not alone!
I finally caved in and decided that I would stay in the room, but with no contact – don’t want this to become a thing, right? So I lay on the floor doing some yoga, a little plank here and there, stretching myself all over the place. Until that moment where I would look at her from the corner of my eye to check she was asleep, then I would bolt out the room straight to the sofa via the kettle.
But it hit me, she’s scared, she’s little, she’s mine, and I’m the one who makes her safe. What the hell was I doing? She needs me!
She needs me fully present, laying next to her. I don’t go off the clock, that’s not what being a mum is all about. I ease her frightened heart, her overactive brain and it is me who will quell the nightmares. I give her peace from the scary monsters that could jump out from beneath her bed(and they might due to my lack of cleaning skills!)
This is not about me, how did I even make it about me?
This is about her needing comfort, I should be dropping everything to embrace that embrace. Will it really make much difference to my life if I watch one less episode of Buffy? Or will it make a real difference in hers if I am holding her, stroking her hair and making her feel loved?
There is only a small period in their lives that they will actually need me to do this, so why am I fighting it?
When you first give birth, you stare at the little squished up thing every minute of the day, wishing you could bottle every single second. Every smile, every smell – well maybe not every smell! You think that it will never end. Then suddenly without any warning you’re sighing at the moment they wander into the living room when they should be in bed.
I know there are all the theories on self soothing and the old ladies telling you not to spoil them. But can you really spoil a child with love and attention? or is this just total crap so that we can get on with our own lives, leaving them to become a hardened mess.
When they were babies, I always went in for the bed sharing, I practiced baby led weaning. Wore them in a sling until my back was giving way. Taking parts of my parenting from the continuum concept and enjoying all the moments I could. What changed?
Tonight, I lay with the littlest. Stroking her hair and listening to her breath becoming deeper, staring at her beautiful skin and watching her eyes blink slowly until they were so heavy that she couldn’t open them. I didn’t stop there, the other two were still awake, the eldest reading and the beautiful boy just looking into space. I sat next to his bed and repeated my actions, stroking his hair and wondering where my little boy went. I rubbed my nose against his, he looked up at me and smiled then fell into a deep sleep. I moved onto the big girl, clambering up into her bunk. While she was still reading, I gave her a foot and leg massage as she gets growing pains. She put her book down, cuddled into me and told me how much she loved me before closing her eyes.
This is so much better then any damn TV series. What was I thinking? I have three children who have gone to sleep knowing that in a world with so many unknowns, they can always count on me!
I stayed an extra five minutes just to hold the moment close.