Just as the baby phase finally came to an end, just as he’d finally gotten used to sleeping on his new big boy mattress surrounded by two teddies, a dog, a bunny, another teddy, a rabbit, a duck, and a penguin, kept warm by duvets covered by Winnie the Pooh, Lightning McQueen, and a galaxy of stars, just as I thought, this is it, he’s officially a kid and I’m going to be showered and rested every morning, the toddler proved me wrong yet again.
Welcome to the forced co-sleeping phase. It’s full of fun and surprises. For example, just as my head hits the pillow after a day of digging, making trains, collages, and traffic jams on the hardwood floor, the minute I close my eyes, I’m roused by “mommy, I come to your bed!” It’s actually fine if it happens right at my bedtime, though not so much for my husband who ends up sleeping in the big boy bed because little big boy has taken up his side of ours. However, this can happen at 1am, 3am, 5am. You never know. It’s also often accompanied by a demand for milk, a demand which I stumble downstairs to fulfill, make it too hot or too cold, go back downstairs again, spill half of it on the hot stove or myself, and you get the picture.
The rest of the night is spent in battle. He kicks, he sleeps on my face, he puts smelly teddy right under my nose, he throws his heavy three-year-old leg on my stomach, he punches, he snores. Sometimes he brings his stuffed animal family to bed with us, and by the 6am wakeup call which can come in the form of my eyelids being gently raised to see if I’m really sleeping or infinite whisper of mommy wake up, mommy wake up, I’m literally balancing on the edge of the mattress, sometimes keeping a hand on the floor to prevent myself from falling out of the zoo that by bed is.
By 10am, he’s in preschool, I’ve had five cups of coffee, and I’m pretty much exhausted, starving, craving hot food like spaghetti bolognese. Or grilled chicken and mash. And gravy.
An older woman overheard me describing my nights the other day. She’d been complaining about her irresponsible daughter who is paying more attention to her boyfriend than college. Ah, she said. But this will all last only a few more years. I’d give anything to hold my children in the middle of the night, smell their hair, just breathe in that magical smell. And she started inhaling dramatically, using her hand to drive the point home.
Well, I’m not sure what your kids were like at three, but there is no holding mine because he hurts me in his sleep, his hair smells like the dirt he threw at me at the park earlier that day, mixed with tears and sweat and maybe even snot that he got all over his head while I was begging him to wash their hair, and gave up, and sometimes I can’t think of anything more magical than sleeping through the night with him in the next room. So yeah lady, I’m not convinced.