Monday, January 26, 2015

Why I still sleep with my (almost) 6 year old

"Mommy, will you hold me?"

I hear this simple little question every single night as I squeeze into my little spot on our king size bed next to him. You would think a kind size bed would allow for more room but the bigger our sweet little guy gets the less room I have come 8 pm each night. I know what he needs; he needs to feel the weight of my arm draped over him, just as he used to need to smell my scent, or clutch my finger, as I bent over the crib railing and waited, waited, waited for his heavy eyes to flutter closed.

Most importantly he needs ME. And for that reason I squeeze in my little familiar spot, snuggle up next to him and drape my arm across his little body until he has drifted into dreamland.

Sure I'm criticized by many. Friends. Family. Probably even you right now, are saying how absurd it is to have an (almost) 6 year old still falling asleep in Mom and Dad's bed each night. I hear it all.

"How long are you going to let him sleep in there?"
"Don't you think it's time he learns to fall asleep on his own?"
"Is it even healthy to still have him doing this?"

I read all the books. I went through countless articles and blogs while I was pregnant. He actually was an excellent sleeper in his own room when he was younger. But it's the falling asleep that was never easy for him. Even as a baby in his bassinet beside our bed I use to turn over and lean my arm over into his bassinet and rest my hand on his chest, and off to sleep he went. As he got older I stood beside his crib each and every night with one arm draped over the side rubbing his back or with my hand resting on his chest. Watching it rise and fall. Watching his little blue eyes get heavier and heavier.

I am glad that I don't listen to what others say. I am glad that I haven't missed out on these amazing moments each night, just him and I. These moments rank up there with some of the most special and close to my heart. The only time of day he isn't running around, being loud, or being so independent. He lets me hold him and stare at all his beautiful little freckles up close. Watch his little eyelashes flutter. It's really as good as it gets :)

I would hate to know I missed these moments. Missed all the crazy questions that come spilling out in that weird space between being awake and being asleep. So many nights Andy and I have shared some great laughs listening to these little questions and outbursts. Things like, "Why do cows lay purple eggs?"  or "Hey! Stop stealing my macaroni!" You know what's going on in mind in that in between stage but it's pretty hilarious to watch him, eyes closed, so still, just randomly shouting out crazy things.

There is also so much that comes out before his little eyes close. He finally is relaxed and calm and ready to tell me who he sat with at lunch or what he learned in music class that day. All the stuff he just isn't in the mood to talk about right after school each day, the small moments from his day, as he settles into the stillness and attempts to avoid sleeping. That time of night — that brief transition from awake to asleep — is when the good stuff spills out. That’s when I learn about his friends, his feelings, his fears.I would hate it if I missed all that :)

If he was in his room all along falling asleep who would whisper in his ears "I love you" once more before he fully alseep. Who would make him feel safe enough to drift off and have sweet dreams. That's why I'm here. That's my job. These days may seem long but looking back the years so short and before long he will not be walking into our room each night at bed time. He will not want to snuggle or have my arms wrapped around him. He will want his privacy. He will no longer need me for that part of his day. I won't hear about his day in that relaxed dreamy way anymore. I won't get to soak in every little feature of his face while watching his long eye lashes flutter. And that day will be here a lot sooner then I'll be ready for. So until then, I'm taking it all in.

As long as he'll have me I'll be there. I’ll stroke his hair, feeling his steady breaths in and out and in and out. I’ll feel that same calmness that I felt when his tiny head settled on my shoulder, breathing deeply into my skin. Tonight I’ll be needed in the most basic of ways, and I’ll show up.

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