I snuggle my kids to sleep. I’ve never been particularly “good” at putting the kids to bed. For Jessie, I created this elaborate bedtime routine, involving many stories, a variety of songs and then I’d rub her back until she drifted off to sleep (she’s still the toughest one to get down to sleep – she fights it like you wouldn’t believe). For Sam, he was always, always my easiest kid, in terms of sleep. He nursed well into toddlerhood, and the one just before bed was the last nursing session that he droppped. He’d sleep anywhere and everywhere. He napped on the couch, with kids running around all over the place.
The bedtime routine has changed over the years. More recently, I’m adjusting to Marc being here at bedtime (which is a pretty significant change). I’m able to put them all to bed the way I always wanted to – but was rarely able to because either I was picking Marc up and had to bundle them into the car in their pajamas or was the only adult home and had to balance which one needed me the most at any one point.
Last night, I was putting Sam to bed, and really took the time to luxuriate in the whole process. His little-boyness -this gorgeous stage that he’s at now. He’s SO big – all long legs and big boy shoulders. But he’s still so little. He wraps his little arms around my arm, and snuggles into my embrace like it’s exactly where he wanted to be. I don’t have this stage with Jessie anymore. I say that not to contrast the two, but to point out that I know now that this doesn’t last forever. He won’t always want me there to snuggle into when he falls asleep. Soon he’ll be big. Too big. I’ll get the kiss before he goes to bed by himself – and that will be sweet, and lovely. But it won’t be this. It won’t be him and I, talking and whispering before he drifts off. He tells me about minecraft, or how mean his substitute teacher was, or why he’s pretty sure that zombies are real. He lets me brush his hair back from his forehead and kiss his little cheek.
He’s growing up on me. These little moments, when it’s just us – they won’t always be there. I think I thought that they would be. I knew they’d grow up – logically. But in my head, in my heart, I kind of always thought that they’d be MINE. And they are, on some level – but they also start to belong to themselves more and more. They don’t need or expect bedtime snuggles all the time, they grow up and blow kisses at you from the doorway.
I’ll adjust, I will. And I’ll even find that I love that stage with him – I do with Jessie. She’s so bright and blossoming and beautiful (check out that alliteration….) – and this stage is so much fun with her. It will be with Sam too. And I’ve still got a ways to go with my Julianna. But every one of those bedtime minutes with Sammy now feel precious and finite. They don’t last forever – and I already feel like I’m missing this little eight year old boy.