Some days I long for bedtime to come so I can grasp onto some adult time. A time in which the house is free of noise, demands from children, questions, chaos. A chance to reboot, hear myself think and endeavour to shed the stresses of the day.
And every day the ritual is the same. I lay with the 3 year old until she falls asleep.
It’s a part of the day when it is just her and me. A time which is full of questions or comfortable silences. A time for us to talk. Snuggled up in her bed I ask her ‘what was your favourite bit today?’ and she will think about it and answer giving me an insight into her world picking some completely random moment which I have most often forgotten about or not even noticed.
Most nights we’ll read a story together. She’ll plead to read it ‘just one more time’ several times until I put the book down. It’s a time where she has my undivided attention and I tell her that I love her and why I love her. I point out her strengths and things that have made me proud. We talk about aspirations and things that make us smile.
The days can be chaotic and busy and undivided attention can be hard to achieve. Moments can quickly pass or be overlooked by the routines of everyday life. But this time where we lay together at bedtime is undivided and slow in pace. I will sit with her until she drifts off. I will hold her hand, smooth her hair or snuggle her up and breath in her smell and she will welcome that and gently caress me back.
Laying next to our children as they fall asleep has been a ritual that starts from birth. A bad habit some may say but, for us, it is an incredibly important part of the day. A time which has become quality and a chance to reconnect with each other.
This may not be a parenting style suited to everyone and it may be frowned upon by some. But, for us, it works.
They are only little for such a short time and whilst small I want them to feel that we are always here. Right up to that point where they drift off into slumber, I will be right by their side.
Does this manifest as attachment issues? I don’t believe so. I don’t think you need to read too much into it. She knows that it’s bedtime and that I will leave once she falls asleep. She knows that I won’t be there when she opens her eyes. She knows that I will be in my own bed and she can come and search me out… and she does. I feel that laying down with her gives both her and me comfort that we can embrace each other’s company away from the rest of the world. I feel like I can reassure her that I am always there for her should she need me. I can reassure her that in the haze of everyday life we can always sit in our own bubble; a world where it is just her and me. A bond which we shared as she grew in my belly.
I really don’t care for parenting manuals, statistics and research. I believe that our children can be our guide.
At some stage her independence will take these moments away, I’m not sure when or how and it won’t be overnight. I’m just sure one day I will realise that it’s just not happening anymore. Like with her elder siblings.
But for now, I don’t care about installing in her an independence to lay alone. I just want her to know that I will lay with her for however long she wants me to.
And in those moments that she wants to lay alone I want her to know that she isn’t alone because my heart is always alongside her no matter how far apart we may be.
And before I sneak out when she has drifted off I will always stop to take a moment to just stare at her, to remind myself how lucky I am with a knowledge that these moments will not last forever and that one day I will yearn for them to return.
But as long as she wants me to lay with her I will.