Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sleep With Me?

My welcome to motherhood did not include months of sleepless nights, trying to soothe a newborn to sleep. Nope, Bethany was definitely not a cuddly baby. She cried until we put her down to sleep, in her own crib, thank you very  much. (Interestingly, she is much more cuddly  now, as a 10 and a half year old, than she was as a baby/toddler/preschooler. Making up for lost time maybe?) I gave up on nursing early on, put that baby on a schedule, and she was sleeping like a champ - 12 hours a night - very quickly. Once she started crawling, at around 6 months, she never even wanted to be held anymore. Such a busy little thing, she was.

When Connor came along, he was comparatively much more snuggly. That is, he tolerated being held and cuddled much better than Bethany. With only Bethany to compare him to, I thought I finally had myself a cuddle bear. I remember when he was about 9 months old, Chris was out of town and I coerced allowed Connor to sleep with me. This stands out in my memory because Bethany and Connor truly never slept with us (except for those very first newborn nights, getting used to being in the world). But he was also a champion sleeper from a very young age, bottle fed and on a fairly reliable schedule. He rarely fussed and was not a kid who insisted upon being held frequently. They were possibly the two easiest babies ever. At least that's how it seems now.

Then I had Lucy and Mathilda, and neither of them slept through the night until they were 18 months old. They wanted to be held all the time. They slept with us a lot. Like, a whole lot. They were, and are, about the cuddliest little girls ever. Mattie is almost 3 and at this very moment is requesting me to stop what I'm doing and cuddle her (which I will do shortly). Now I know what it's like to have snuggle muffins. While I loved having my champion sleepers, I found that I also loved cuddling with my baby girls for long hours. I found I had a patience I didn't know was in me for those frequent middle of the night wake-up calls. I wonder (and feel loads of guilt about this) if it's because I nursed both of them for so long. I wonder if I had nursed Bethany longer and nursed Connor at all (guiltguiltguilt), if they would have loved being held and cuddled like the little girls.

But this is not really a post about mommy guilt.

Last night Bethany was gone overnight at my  mother-in-law's and Connor said he didn't want to go to sleep without her. You see, they have their own bedrooms but Bethany almost always sleeps on Connor's bottom bunk (he sleeps on the top). This is not typical Connor behavior at all. He has never minded sleeping alone. He very kindly allows his sister(s) to intrude on his turf, but I'm pretty sure he would generally prefer that they didn't. So I was really surprised. Turns out that he has been having bad dreams and been a little freaked out since Friday the 13th.

Let me explain. He and Bethany were begging to watch a scary movie on Friday the 13th, since some of Bethany's friends were talking about the scary movies they would be watching that night. Chris suggested Drag Me to Hell, saying it was more funny than scary. I had never seen it, and armed with memories of myself watching Poltergeist and Nightmare on Elm Street at their ages, I went along with it. Within a few minutes it was clear they were not going to get through this movie. They were both hiding under the blanket and looked terrified, so I asked them if they wanted me to turn it off. "YES!", they both agreed. So that was a couple weeks ago, but last night was the first time Connor had said anything about having nightmares or being scared. Just like when he was a baby, he is not a complainer. He is also not very emotionally expressive, so I knew this had to be weighing on him heavily if he actually decided to talk to me about it. It was a windy night and we could hear the wind blowing around. Connor admitted he was also worried about tornadoes. I had Chris check the weather report and reassure him that there were no tornado watches or warnings in our area. I am suspecting this new fear of tornadoes has to do with watching Twister with them a couple months ago? Connor said he doesn't think so, but I think that is a little more than a coincidence. Honestly, Connor rarely gets scared by movies (that I know of!), but I'm thinking we'll stick more to the Disney, made for kids variety of movies for awhile.

Connor looked so vulnerable, worried, and frightened as he was telling me all this last night. I asked him if he would feel better if, when I was ready to go to bed for the night, I slept in his bottom bunk. And he asked if it would be okay if he slept in the bottom bunk with me. He is nine years old and this is possibly (probably) the only time he has ever asked to sleep with me. I couldn't tell him no. So an hour or two after he went to bed, I squeezed into bed with him. I feel bad that he has been so scared and never mentioned it until last night. I had a horrible night's sleep, not only because I was fighting for bed space and blankets all night, but also because Mattie was having growing pains in her legs and crying her heart out much of the night. So I was stumbling back and forth between bedrooms all night, trying to soothe her and minimize disruptions for everyone else. But I am glad Connor decided to admit he was feeling scared. And I'm glad he asked to sleep with me. His sisters loudly demand lots of attention pretty much 24/7, but he rarely does. He's so big and such a good, self-reliant kid, it's easy to forget he's only in 3rd grade. He still needs his mama and that's okay with me.

I'm happy I had the opportunity to sleep with my son. Who knows if he'll ever ask me again? That parenthood cliche about kids growing up too fast is painfully true. The next time Bethany asks to sit on my lap could be the last. The next time Mattie says, "please cuddle me a minute, Mama?" could be the last. The next time Lucy asks me to read a favorite book could be the last. One never knows. Sometimes independence shows up suddenly and unexpectedly. In the meantime, I will do my best to say "yes" as often as I can.

No comments: