When Riley was about 14 months old she started reliably sleeping through the night and no needing my presence to get to sleep. Up until that point she was up three or more times a night and at nap time I would need to rock or stroke her to sleep.
Perhaps it was because I was no longer breastfeeding her, so there was less interest in night-time snacking, or perhaps it was that she had always hated the cot and I’d moved her to her toddler bed. Either way, I didn’t care. It was such a relief to have a break. It wasn’t just the sleep deprivation, it was the emotional pressure of being completely responsible for whether or not she slept.
Since her recent bout of teething and illness there’s been a bit of a sleep regression. More often than not I sit in her room so she can get to sleep. I talk to her really softly and slowly or massage her scalp or stroke her cheeks until she drifts off and I sneak out of the room. And more often than not she’ll wake up in the middle of the night and come into our bed.
It would be easy to become frustrated with this. Despite the fact that I think I would have really missed out if I hadn’t parented her to sleep all this time. And despite the fact that I enjoy the co-sleeping – even when I get kicked and punched occasionally.Which is why this article really struck a chord with me. It was a reminder that sometimes I can’t sleep and I stay up and watch TV, or I ask Josh to give me a massage, or I read a book, or I have something to eat. And sometimes I just can’t relax.The only difference is I’m capable of meeting my needs, vocalising them and in general helping myself. I don’t have someone telling me to get into bed when I can’t sleep. Or making sure I stay there.
It’s not always easy when all I want is some undisturbed sleep. But the next time I’m bored, frustrated or exhausted I will hold on to all of the things that make it just lovely. Like pudgy little arms wrapping around my neck in the middle of the night; or heavy eyes closing slowly to my touch, or chubby cheeks resting against my own for comfort.