Thursday, September 20

Hug your babies

I have posted previously about my sleep problems and I think I may also have mentioned at some point that Aislin is not a 'good sleeper'. We co-slept with both the girls as babies and even when Aislin was in with us she woke up a lot. Since she was 12 months old she has even more regularly woken up in the night and made sure we woke up too. I'm not sure if she has inherited my sleep issues or if she has sleep issues all her own, but hers, interestingly, coincided with being weaned, so clearly I should still be breastfeeding this child. But I'm not.

A couple of weeks ago she was waking up more than usual, wanting one of us in beside her, Tom gave in a couple of times and it became a 'thing'. I'm not criticising Tom here, I regularly give in too, it's just easier and we all need our sleep. Usually once either of us in in there we fall asleep too and spend the rest of the night uncomfortably squished in her single bed with her - it's not ideal and really sets you up for the next day I can tell you. Anyway, this went on for a week and we finally managed to stop it with a sticker reward for sleeping all night alone and she was fine and very happy and excited about that - the girl loves stickers. Things settled down again.

Last night she woke up at 1.20am and called out to me, I went through and sat on the bed and spoke to her, gave her a cuddle and told her it was time to go back to sleep. She said she wanted me to get in beside her, I explained that I wasn’t going to do that because I was tired and wanted to go back to my own bed (I just didn’t want to start all that again). Anyway, she had a bit of a whine about that and said ‘I just want someone to come into bed and cuddle me’ but I stuck to my guns, gave her another cuddle but said 'no, I'm going back to bed'..... and she starts to whine louder. So then I said she has two choices, she can have another hug and go back to sleep or she can get up and go sit in the lounge room so she’s not waking everyone else up (clever eh?). Would you believe the little madam says she’ll get up? Hmmm, foiled again. So I let her go through and I stand in the hallway (freezing) listening for a while. She’s kind of complaining, but not crying, and I'm thinking I’ve got to be 'strong' with this, so after a while I go and get back into my bed and lie there wide awake listening for her. She’s all quiet. So I wait a bit longer (if anyone reading this is thinking what a cruel bitch I am, I'm ashamed to say you're absolutely right). After 9 minutes (stubborn little besom) I hear her come through and get into her bed. Am I feeling good about this? Do I feel that I 'won'? Am I proud of my ability to bully a 4 year old child into compliance? Absolutely not.

During that 9 minutes my mind went into overdrive (as only a mind can at 1.30am) and I started to think about Madeleine McCann and Pumpkin and how fragile it all is in a world where children can be abandoned or abducted. I thought about all the parents that have lost children in one way or another I realised that if she wasn’t here I would sell my soul for the opportunity to get into bed and give her a cuddle just one more time. And when she’s 16 and doesn’t want me cuddling her all the time I’ll miss the days she did want me. It’s such a short time we'll be ‘inconvenienced’ in this way and really, battling her to sleep alone just wakes everyone up and worst of all it makes her sad. It usually only takes a few minutes for her to get back to sleep but if we fight about it everyone is up, she's upset and I’m awake for hours.

So with my thoughts on all the lost children I got out of bed, went through and climbed in beside her, she snuggled up to me, grabbed my arm and started feeling my ‘cold’ and was happily asleep in minutes. I watched her for a while feeling so grateful for my good fortune, kissed her one more time and went back to bed. Sometimes the rules we make and pressure we put on our children is so stupid and pointless and hurtful to them and us. In the grand scheme of things does it really matter if we sleep in beside them once in a while, or if they won't eat their brocolli or if they don't put their toys away every time or if they eat a bloody rice cracker? No. It doesn't.

Of course because I’d disrupted myself so much I was awake until 4.30am – d’oh - but she slept happily the rest of the night and that is all that matters.

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