Since L was big enough to sleep in a "big girl" bed I have been lying by her at night, talking about the day, saying our prayers and cuddling.
Considering that since once we were done with our chattering she was fast about falling asleep I didn't mind our nightly ritual.
However, once B graduated to a "big boy" bed, I had one more stop that was added to my nightly routine.
I would start in one room, usually L's, and then move to the others. B, always wanting to wait for me, and determined to do so, would NEVER fall asleep until I came to his room. Sometimes he would even meet me in L's room, lie by my side and then occasionally check her sleeping status, informing me of when it was safe to exit and go to his room.
It would be safe to say that B doesn't fall to sleep as easy as L. He fights it. He tosses, turns, repositions, tosses, turns, repositions...you get the idea....
....and he does all of that while keeping one foot firmly pressed against my body. You know, to make sure that I am still there.
Many times I woke up in the kids room, only to find that it was now 12, 1 or maybe even 4:00 a.m. I would then get up and groggily stumble into my bedroom and to our bed, muttering about how easy Steven had fallen asleep and how easy he had it, usually to awaken in the morning to find that B had done the same thing.
For a couple of years now I have accepted this as part of my nightly ritual.
A couple of weeks ago, on the heels of my Post Traumatic Stress breakdown ( I kid...kind of), I decided that this must end. Our kids needed to go to sleep on their own.
Knowing that we don't watch a lot of TV, I bribed B. I asked him that if I got him a movie and let him watch it in his room at bedtime, if he would do it BY HIMSELF.
He agreed and then recanted.
I told him it was too late....the movie had been ordered.
I spent a whopping $3 and bought a VHS tape. A knockoff of Baby Einstein, called Baby Geniuses and the whole movie consisted of classical music, animals and at the end, nighttime pictures and sounds. The first time through B insisted that this was a "baby movie" and that he didn't want to watch it.
I marched him back to bed and said, "You have to try.....I will come back and check on you."
And I did.
And you know what?
HE WAS ASLEEP!!!!
And he has repeated this for the last two weeks.
(I realize that he shouldn't have to watch a movie, but for me it is about 'baby steps'.)
L, not being one to be outdone, started going to sleep on her own. Period. No movie.
Some nights she has said, "Will you lay by me.....?" and honestly, most times I have every intention of doing so, "Just as soon as I get a few things done."
Every time that I go back, almost expecting her to raise her head and smile that I have returned, I have been met with her sleeping face.
I am glad. I really am.
Steven and I have commented how it has been SO nice to have some time in the evening to talk...to each other. Don't get me wrong...we are always together. But we are together with our kids. And we enjoyed/enjoy it. However, prior to this latest bedtime change, the time we had alone..together...in the last six years, has been limited to a couple times a year.
Yes. A couple of times a year.
I haven't felt deprived, and I don't see that changing all that much even in the future, however, I like this new found conversation and time.....
yet....even amid all of my happiness, there is a little ache.
Last night I told Steven..."I miss bedtime with them. I am going to have to back track a little."
He just smiled.
We both know this....all of this..... won't last long. Laying by L in bed, holding her small body close to mine, recounting our days....these things will pass with time. She will be too big for her mama. In fact, I am prepared for the time when she doesn't even like me.
But until then.....
Well, I know that he, too, will be too "cool" for his mom. He won't want my kisses and hugs..... He won't want his "puppets" (stuffed animals).... He won't want me.
So, today...or should I say "tonight"..., I will still take time with Steven.
To laugh, to talk, to love.
But I will do it right after I spend a little more time with the kids, rubbing their backs and soaking this time up....this fleeting time up.
And then I will press "Play" for B.... I will exit their rooms.... and then I will return to my regularly scheduled life...... already in progress.