Years ago I had a friend whose youngest child would’t go to sleep at night. Being that I still knew everything about everything, I was impatient with her complaints about the difficulties. I figured she could just change it if she really wanted to.
I was probably right that she could change it if she wanted to. But I was very wrong about quite a bit more I judged about the situation. It wasn’t until I got into her shoes that I understood a little more of what she experienced.
Kepler has always loved to snuggle. For years, he’d end up in our bed partway through the night. I probably could have changed it if I had wanted. Honestly, since Greg travels so much, I was happy to end up with my little cuddler. It didn’t give me the best sleep, but I figured it was worth it.
Although it was ok with me, he really did crowd up things when Greg was home. Eventually, we decided to actually give him our bed for his own, and then get ourselves a new one.
I knew on some level that eventually he would decide to stay in his own bed. But I also remembered my hairdresser in the little country town we used to live in. One time she told me that her daughter had slept with her all the way up until she left to get married at 18. So, I had at least some evidence that some children don’t actually ever find their way clear to sleeping alone.
He used to just stay there in his bed when he woke in the night, and call out for us. We would dutifully walk to his bed, PICK HIM UP and carry him to our bed. He had it made! As he grew and got heavier, I would have him walk with me, but I still allowed him to call out and I would go to him. Finally, I decided I’d had enough of the middle of night walks, and we started letting him come to us.
When we got our new bed, and gave him our old one (queen size), we decided it was now time to make our bed OUR bed, meaning the two of us, not OUR bed, meaning anyone and everyone.
Eventually he started walking to our room to let us know he needed middle of night accompaniment. This was a step in the right direction.
Just recently, he has started managing his own night-time hours. I notice that he moves from his side to “my” side partway through the night, switching the pillows, which had previously been my job. So, he is now waking up on a nightly basis still, but is taking care of it himself.
I get to sleep all night long. Finally! He still requires my presence for books and the going to sleep portion of our show, but those days are probably numbered as well.
I suppose I could have changed it along the way if I had been willing to disrupt my sleep significantly by forcing him to deal with him on my time instead of his. But I didn’t. He found his own path in his own time. And I’m ok with that.