By Cathy Oliver
You are 15 months old and have never ‘slept through’. Sometimes, when I tell people this, they stare wide-eyed with slack jaws and furrowed brows. They use phrases like ‘negative sleep associations’ and ‘rod for your own back’ and ‘self settle’. They mistake a baby’s ‘goodness’ for the sum total of its hours asleep, inanimate and convenient.
I want you to know something…
You don’t sleep well, but you are good. Every part of you is nothing but good.
Our night time ‘routine’ of giggles, snuggles, tickles, chuckles and finally feeding you to sleep in my arms is my very favourite time of day.
One day, you will decide that it doesn’t work for you anymore. That will be when you are ready for something else, and not before.
When you wake in the night and move into my bed, arms reaching for the touch and warmth of another human body, I am not angry to have been woken, I am grateful to be so loved, and relieved to snuggle your little body into mine.
The truth is, I dislike sleeping alone. I never sleep through. I’m 31. Why would I expect these things of you? Why force them from you? Why lament our closeness at night time?
When you are grown, know that I loved these times with you, that I miss them more than anything, that the moment your fingers rest on my arm and my nose nestles in your hair tiredness doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
I am your mother at night as I am in the day.
When a child is born from your body, know that the greatest balm for frustration as a new mother is to alter your perception. Respect your instincts, look away from those who shake their heads and toward the loving gaze of your baby.
You’ll never regret it.