Every night, I lie in bed next to DD as she falls alseep. She won’t go to sleep without me (except on the rare occasion when I’m not home and she’ll stay up until she is exhausted), but I have never thought about it as any sort of weakness or problem. After all, when she was only 2 I had to lie with her and nurse her until she fell asleep. And when she was 1 sometimes it would take almost an hour to rock and nurse her to sleep. But over time, as she grew, her needs became less and less, with each stage seeming easier than the previous one, until now what I have is a kid who goes to bed willingly, happily, without any fuss, and falls asleep within a few short minutes. And all she asks of me is that I lie with her and cuddle her until she’s asleep.
Last night as I lay in bed with her, I thought about how one day she is going to leave me. She will move out of our home, perhaps out of the country, to find her own place in the world. It really shocked me, because although intuitively I knew that was going to happen, it didn’t really seem real to me until that moment, lying there with her in the dark. That her, this little girl right here, who I spend the better part of each and every day with, will one day not be here anymore. Heck, in even less time she’ll be wanting to go out in the evenings and socialize with other young people and she’ll probably roll her eyes at me when I say that I…can no longer go to sleep when she isn’t there. 🙂
A mother I am only slightly acquainted with once said to me of her 3.5 year old “I just want to put him in bed, say goodnight, and go do my own thing in the evenings”. I said to her “It will happen one day, you know.” And I felt so sad for this woman. Because somewhere along the way society had given her the impression that 3 year olds can just be tucked into bed, kissed on their foreheads, and left alone in the dark to fall asleep. While I do hang out with a rather select crowd, I don’t know a single mother (and I know many) whose child does that. In fact, in my own version of reality it seems bizarre to me to even expect that. It’s like taking a puppy home from the pound and then discovering that you actually have to take it out for walks. But anyways, what really makes me sad is that this poor women has no idea what she is wishing away. Because one day her son won’t want to come home until the wee hours of the morning, and she’ll be sitting up in bed wondering if he’s okay, if he’s getting into trouble, if the people he’s in the car with have been drinking…and perhaps at that moment she will look back on those days when all he wanted was to snuggle with his mother until he fell asleep. I wonder how she’ll feel about needing her “evening time” then?