So I’m sitting on the couch with my husband and settling onto the couch when I hear “mommy?” for the umpteenth time… The first time was around 8:30. Then 8:47. Then 8:52. Etc, etc.
This is just a phase.
This is just a phase.
This is just a freaking phase.
My toddler has been an independent sleeper since she was 6 months old. We hardly have any issues with getting her to bed and her staying there.
Maybe she’s still hungry. Alright, here’s a snack. Maybe she’s not ready for bed. Okay, you can play a little longer. Or….maybe she just needs me. Okay, let’s go in your room together and I’ll put you back to bed. I laid her down started brushing my finger across her face as she rubbed her eyes, tickling her back like I do for her sister, humming a song, until she points to the space to her left and says “Mommy, too?” She wanted me to lay next to her. So that’s what I did. I climbed into her crib and curled up next to her. She slid her little arm under my neck and hugged my head against her body.
And it hit me. Hard.
I realized I have not laid down with her to put her to sleep since she was 6 months old–she’ll be 2 next month. I laid there and watched her slowly blink away the day as she played with my hair. I did that until I noticed she was starting to fall a little deeper into her slumber and decided to get out before I ended up waking her as I did it later on. So I got out and stood by her crib and repeated my earlier actions. I brushed my fingers across her face. I tickled her back. I glued my eyes to her little body. I watched the rise and fall of her chest.
And I cried.
I cried because I feel like I lost a year and some change putting her to bed and leaving her to self soothe, rather than basking in the moment. I watched how beautiful she looked while she so peacefully lay there, slow-blinking, and then shooting them back wide open to make sure I’m really still there, then slow-blinking them shut again. A step that she repeated over and over until she gave into sleep.
I stood there and soaked it all up. The way she picked her nose until she was almost asleep and then switched it up to her hands behind her head flipping away at her earlobes instead. The way her hand fell down to her stuffed monkey to make sure it was still there after she closed her eyes for the night. The way she said “Mommy?” when she sensed me backing away.
The way I succumbed to her needs and laid on the floor by the crib with my arm between the rails and held her hand until it was limp and her breathing heavied.
When she was out for the count I carefully tip toed away, I closed her door, went straight to my husband, buried my face and I cried even more. Why didn’t I do this more often? Why did I wait this long? Why haven’t I done this sooner?
I feel like I robbed myself that time because she is so easy at bedtime that I didn’t even think to do it. I was so focused on her being an independent sleeper that I missed out on those peaceful moments for so long. I wanted to rewind time and snuggle her more and for even longer. She was breastfed until 6 months old when I started working again so I would normally come in, feed her to sleep and go back to my bed–and she and I were okay with that.
Or at least I thought I was until that moment. I pride myself in thinking I soak in many of these little moments, but clearly–at some point–I slipped. Maybe I feel like being at home all day with her compensates for missing other things. Maybe I am so eager to be able to sit in silence and read a book, fill an order, or watch a show without distractions. Maybe it just became so routine, it didn’t cross my mind until the recent events of her escaping her bed/room that I just laid her down, did our kissy/peekaboo/hair in her face routine, and kiss her again, that it didn’t occur to me that she’d crave for me to stay with her until she fell asleep.
I mean I do it for her older sister a lot of times–but she’s also old enough to ask for it.
And I know that I want to embrace these moments because just as quickly as I wish this phase away of her constantly getting out of bed… gone will be the days she actually wants me to. So until then I’m going to remind myself…
…This is just a phase— she won’t want this forever.