Let me be the very first to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year! This is utterly presumptuous of me, because of course I am assuming that reading our blog was your very first task of the year 2015. However, perhaps that was your new year’s resolution—to keep more on top of reading your very favourite, award-winning blog, and WHO AM I to judge your thoughtfully made, carefully considered resolutions? In actual fact, I admire and applaud them, particularly that one. And so, my original statement stands: let me be the very first to wish you all the best that this New Year has to offer, and then some!
For you parents out there, whether you plan to make resolutions or not, my wish for you is improvement on whatever child-related front you are desperate for improvement upon. This may have very little to do with what you can physically do to make changes, of course, and depend entirely on your attitude towards said problem, but still, I wish and hope for changes that will make your life easier.
For example: I have such a problem, and I have decided on a less-than conventional resolution to it. Here’s the thing: my four-year-old, ever since Halloween (coincidence? I think not) of LAST year (ye ol’ 2014) has begun to creep up the stairs at night, EVERY night, tip-toe into our room like a Grinchy little Cindy Lou Who, slide sneakily into our bed, and attempt to sleep there with us for the rest of the GOSH-DARN night. If I happen to fumble awake while she is making this transition and sleepily mumble “goh bac tasleep dowstair,” or something to that effect, she does not obey me, for some reason. Instead, she will say something about needing “A snuggle for TWO MINUTES. TWO MINUTES, Mommy.”
Of course we all know that that is utter hogwash. A wily child of four has no more concept than my fuzzy 2 AM brain of how long two minutes really is, nor do either of us have the self-discipline to enforce that time frame. And yet I will make myself feel better by imperiously imposing a limit: “hokay. TWO MINNIS an then daddy takeu downstair to BED.”
And then we will all fall asleep until 4 AM, when I will wake up in pain and realize that, like a sad, scrunched little piece of bologna I have been forced to sleep between the two piping-hot, blond pieces of unconscious sandwich bread that are my husband and daughter. Even worse, my head is always uncomfortably lodged in the bed no-man’s land, between the two pillows. This is the situation every time because my little one always tucks her small body into mine like a snuggly little puzzle piece in a way that would be sweet if she wasn’t so too-old-for-this. It doesn’t help that I’m always so darn tired having stayed up too late again trying to squeeze in a few shows, a few games, and a few hundred pages from my new paperback novel Christmas gift. And so throughout the night I try to gain inches of space by moving toward my husband, who ends up moving as far away as he can to gain his own space before the end of the bed prevents him from moving further. But my daughter, completely unaware of these attempts to gain space, continues to inch towards me in her sleep, seeking the comfort and puzzle-piece-fitting closeness that she had attained when she first climbed into bed. This dance continues until I am the squashed piece of bologna. I always try to find a comfortable position, hungrily eyeing the miles of empty bed space that lay on the other side of S. Eventually I give up, however, and poke my husband awake, asking him to get up and carry our daughter downstairs to her own bed. After many pokes and hibernating bear-type grumbles, he drags himself from the bed and scoops her up, carrying her downstairs. But she is like a yo-yo—whenever she happens to wake up again, she will find her way upstairs and into our bed, where the dance will continue until I finally haul myself up, launch myself over her, and shuffle downstairs to soothe myself with coffee. To the victor goes the bed, to the loser goes the cold kitchen floor and the sleepy-coffee-making.
We have tried many tactics to solve this problem—all good advice from very compassionate friends. We even tried to put a special, just-for-her mattress on the floor beside our bed. This works sometimes, but more often than not she still ends up in our bed. Sometimes she sneaks in so seamlessly that I don’t even notice until I wake up: bologna. And so, it is a difficult problem to solve and one, I tell myself, she will likely grow out of, and soon (please oh please oh).
But here’s a surprise. Yesterday morning she did it again, the little minx, but this time I was more awake than not, and I found myself submitting willingly to it. And then I decided to enjoy it. She curled up next to me and the sheet hooked her in such a way that it tugged on me, literally, and gave me this familiar feeling that I haven’t had in a long time, the feeling of having her hanging off of me in a baby sling, that feeling of the familiar, lovely little round weight with a sweet, bobbing baby-head sticking out the top. It brought me back to that time I will never have again, when I could tie my little bundle to myself and keep her close to my heart, within the protection of my arms and be feeling, all at once, the swell of love, closeness, safety, potential, pride.
So that morning I chose to hold her close, to cherish that feeling and kiss her sweet, not-quite-baby-head. And if that’s not the start of a resolution, I don’t know what is. All I know is that it made my situation much more tolerable, and made me reflect on what has come and gone, and what is here now, and what will come to pass. One day she will stop snuggling me in our bed, and one day she will stop snuggling me altogether. And one day I will suddenly have way too much space in my bed, on all sides.
So today, and this year, maybe even, I’ve decided to let this one go, to let it be. I’ve decided that she can puzzle-piece snuggle and bologna-squish me all she wants to. And I’m just going to puzzle-piece snuggle and bologna-squish her right back, and try my best to cherish every moment of it.