I didn't know how long the sleepless nights would stretch out for. Long after the newborn phase. Three years in, and there's no end in sight.
I wonder if my babies understand that I don't sleep. Of course they don't, because they are just babies after all. Between nightmares and nursing I get these brief little whisps of sleep. Sometimes in my own bed, oftentimes in theirs.
There is something sacred about night time parenting. About the world, dark and quiet around you, while you rock, nurse, and comfort new life. Even three years old is new. Even a one year old is still a baby in the world.
Something about the way they settle into you, breathing a sigh of relief. The gentle snores, the snuggling of tiny warm bodies. We only get them this little for the smallest fraction of time.
The thing we teach our boys at night is not how to 'self settle', but that Mama and Daddy are there for you at night, just the same as we are during the day. They don't have to navigate the dark alone.
And one day, I won't be nursing throughout the night. And one day, we won't have little boys coming into our bed at night. But if we do- if we are lucky enough to squeeze out the last of the snuggles that they'll give us- if we get to watch the rise and fall of the chests of our 8 year olds, 12 year olds, 16 year olds....how lucky is that?! If what we've taught them in the end is that we are safe- is that so bad?
And so we respond to all the nightime cries. We wipe tears, and snuggle and sing. And we know that they are safe, and they know that we are safe, and the sun comes up, and the sun goes down. And we'll do this for as long as we are allowed.
Written by LLLC Group mother: Becca Lalonde, Kingston Ontario