Some nights when I work late, there’s nothing more I love doing than snuggling our son to sleep. I rush home as my husband stretches our two-year-old’s bedtime past 8, sometimes 9pm. But his weariness is so worth the relief I feel as his body hits mine, reuniting our souls together as the day comes to an end.
I know we’ve screwed up the whole sleeping situation with our son. Most kids his age are put to bed and can fall asleep on their own. We’ve coddled Leigh. He gets rocked to sleep in his nursery chair, just like he did when he was an infant. We never stopped the routine of pajamas, reading books and drinking a bottle of warm milk. We spend an average of an hour holding him wrapped in a blanket before he reaches his crib, already snoring.
I feel guilty when I think about how he should be capable of better sleep habits, but selfishly I enjoy getting an extra hour of quiet time bonding with him. Being a working mom means I spend all day away from my sweet boy. He hangs at grandma’s house where I know he’s getting more love and attention than I can even give him. We get an average of three hours with him every night during the week. If I can squeeze an extra 60 minutes out of the evening, I’m going to do it.
My husband and I switch off nights doing the bedtime routine with him. At first, being able to avoid getting stuck in the nursery at night was the coveted position. If you weren’t putting Leigh to sleep, you got to keep your freedom, which often meant cleaning up the dishes, taking care of the dogs and wrapping up other projects around the house (or if you’re my husband, you finished watching the baseball game). But the tables have quickly turned and I look forward to the nights when all I have to do is relax in the nursery with my baby. Somewhere along the way, it stopped being work. That’s when you know parenthood really suits you.
There’s no other feeling like his warm, sweaty body getting heavy with slumber as we both doze off under the dim light of his starry night light. I know I’ve created a monster, just like my husband, when I ask Leigh if he’d like a backrub. He reaches around and lifts his shirt, encouraging me to massage his soft skin until he falls asleep. I sing to him a sweet lullaby my mother used to sing to me. I don’t even think I was aware of the tunes she sang while I was little, but the lyrics stuck in my mind and just appeared one day after I became a parent. “I love you so much. I can’t even tell you how much I love you.”
We eagerly await the first time Leigh utters the phrase, “I love you.” It’s going to happen soon and I hope he says it to me just before our bedtime dance to lullaby land. Until then, I’ll just take a deep breath of his sweet smelling hair before placing him gently in his crib. His youthful scent reminds me of the most important work I’ve done all day – and that’s raising this little fella with all the love he needs. Then I stumble out into the living room, half asleep while I struggle to make it to the couch to watch an episode of American Pickers snuggled up to the other man in my life.