“I’ll put her to bed tonight”
He took a look at me and asked “Are you sure? Don’t you want your own time”
“Yeah, I’ll take her tonight, it’s fine”, I replied.
My husband and I were discussing which of us two were to put our almost 2-year-old daughter to bed that night. She takes quite a while to settle down, and most of the time we will lay in bed with her until she falls asleep, before we leave her sleeping self in our room. It usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes, we even end up falling asleep before she does, only to wake up a while later to find her sleeping face next to ours.
We did not sleep train her, due to the fact that she was still co-sleeping with us on our bed, compared to her older siblings who had to move out to their own bedrooms before they were two years old. That meant that our routine with her was still pretty much the same as when she was a baby, apart from the swaddling and rocking.
After I weaned her from breastfeeding end of last year, my husband was able to put her to bed instead of me, and we then took turns to give me more personal time to myself at night. Mostly she would still prefer me and would protest loudly whenever it was her dad who did her bedtime routine with her and took her to bed.
Up to today, she still wants me to be with her at night, and although a part of me wanted my own time, another part of me loved the fact that she still wanted her mummy at night.
But the reason I wanted to put her to bed tonight, and why I had been insistent on doing it the past month was this.
She was approaching her 2nd birthday.
We both knew that she will most probably be our last kid. As we had decided when we got married, three children were enough for us, and since we were both working full time it did not make sense to have more children.
The feeling was similar to when I was weaning her from nursing, because knowing she would be our last kid, it felt that I was closing a chapter of my motherhood journey.
While it felt good to have my body back to myself, it was emotional for me to put an end to nursing for good after 6 years of being pregnant and nursing each of our children.
So now it goes for bedtime. The plan would be that she would eventually move to her own bed, to a shared room with her older sister the following year.
So as she approached her 2nd year of life I cherished the time I have with her at night, cuddling her and kissing her in bed, singing soft songs, and hearing her verbalize new words back to me. She will snuggle under my blanket with me and shared even my pillow.
Then I would say its time to sleep, and I would pretend to close my eyes and being the good girl that she is, after prodding my face for a while with her fingers, she will stare around the room for a while, and slowly close her eyes too.
Little did she know that her mummy was staring at her as she drifted off to sleep.
The outline of her cheeks against the night lamp, still chubby and round, and her button nose, and her long lashes were what I looked at every night. Her mouth will open slightly, forming an ‘O’, and her little chest will rise up and down steadily. Once asleep, I would kiss her sleeping face and reposition her onto her own pillow.
Thankfully, she inherited her daddy’s ability to sleep like a log and would not stir when I reposition to her side of our bed, which was, right in the middle of the bed, of course.
I do not know how much longer she would have this attachment to me at night, and as she grows older she will eventually become more independent and she would be fine sleeping on her own.
This time it feels different, unlike with her siblings, at this point I am not heavily pregnant and expecting a new baby to resume the whole process again.
This time it felt like a door was closing, eventually to be shut.
While I revel in my coming independence, a part of me is also grieving this whole process.
I guess this is the same for most parents, how it seems that they grow too fast, and we learn to let go bit by bit and then enjoy them in their new phase of life as they developed more into their own.
I used to tell myself back during the newborn days, that the nights are long but the years are short, as a way to persevere through the lack of sleep and tiredness.
Now the years are coming to a close for this season of my children’s lives, and for me as well.
So hold them while they still want to be held by, and do not regret the moments spent entangled with their little warm bodies as they snuggle close to you at night.