My husband travels quite frequently for work, and sometimes I feel there might be a link between his absence and my misadventures with the kids and sleep. Although I’m now very used to his being away and it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, I still wonder if there is some sort of invisible shift that causes both the girls and I to be a bit restless during the nights he’s away.
The other night, for example, my eight-year-old daughter, Elissa, was being unusually fussy about going to sleep; she’s usually a really solid sleeper. But it was getting late and she kept complaining that she couldn’t sleep, and was getting all worked up about it. Sometimes a change of scenery can help, so I offered that she could sleep in my bed as a special treat.
Now I have to admit that this can be nice for me, too, as my bed can feel pretty big and empty when I’m all by my lonesome. I also don’t get as much “snuggle time” with my eldest, since her younger sister naturally demands more of my attention.
But the other element is that it can be tricky to authorize Elissa to co-sleep with me, as we have been down a very long and rocky road with Lily’s sleep patterns (let’s just say that for the better part of a year, it really seemed like the book Go the F*ck to Sleep was written *just* for us!). Now that Lily is finally sleeping consistently on her own, we are nervous about throwing off the balance; if she walks in to find Elissa and I co-sleeping, she may feel that she should be getting equal treatment…and suddenly we’re back to square one with choppy nights.
Anyway, on this particular night Elissa came into my bed. And of course, that coincided with the now-rare night that Lily woke up and came into my room in the wee hours of the morning. She climbed in on the other side of me, and suddenly I was wedged between two little kids. Very sweet and cozy for a moment or so…till I realized that I had mistakenly donned flannel pajama pants and was overheating. And I had to pee.
I very carefully extracted myself, and after a quick trip to the bathroom I made my way to Lily’s room. And like so many nights before, I crawled into my daughter’s bed and proceeded to fall fast asleep amidst her pink-and-green butterfly sheets – while my little kids took over my own queen-sized bed.
Gone are the days – at least for the time being – when I could rest easy, knowing that every night would be filled with uninterrupted sleep. But time flies, and I know that one day soon my little girls won’t be so keen to bed down with their mama.
So for now, I will withstand their pillow-stealing ways, the kicks to my shins and waking up to multiple stuffed animals in my face. I’ll pull them a little closer and watch them sleep, marvelling at their caramel-coloured skin and their long, curling eyelashes. For in those moments, losing a few winks seems a small price to pay for the thrill of being a mom.