My toddler is in love with me (to be fair it’s reciprocated but I do seem to do all of the running…).
You know how in the early days when you love someone there are moments you just can’t believe they love you back so much? Or you start worrying that you’ll do something silly to mess it all up? Those concepts don’t apply in the toddler kingdom. He has no doubt whatsoever that he is deserving of every ounce of love. He is, of course, even though sometimes he makes it more difficult than others (we’re going through the ever so fun hitting and hair pulling phase). He throws impressively elaborate melt-downs over the most unworthy reasons (not being allowed hit and told to stop pulling his sister’s hair) and then sobs for Ireland as he clings to me and I comfort him. I marvel at his lack of any sense of personal responsibility as he hiccups while trying to catch his breath following his tantrum and curls up in my lap as if the world was against. He owns me, I know it, he knows it and he knows I know it.
So this got me thinking about how once you are a mother your most consuming relationships are with your kids, your partner is still there of course but he also has a new relationship dynamic as the mini-me’s clamour for more time and attention. We both joke about how our favourite person is no longer the other one, as the kids top the polls.
As I lay in bed (who am I kidding, as I hung on to the edge of the bed precariously and shivered as there wasn’t a square inch of duvet anywhere near me) I thought about how sharing a bed with a toddler is like those first few nights with a new partner.
- You wear something you imagine they will find attractive to bed, despite the fact that you might prefer a different nocturnal outfit yourself. However, the sexy undies are banished and fluffy pyjamas that are perfect for little heads to snuggle up against are in.
- You are nervous trying to sneak out to use the bathroom during the night. Not because you don’t want to remind them that you’re an actual person who does need to answer the call of nature, but because you are terrified that you will wake the sleeping monster.
- You sleep in positions that aren’t all that comfortable. While in the early days of a relationship that might mean keeping up the pretence you like to spoon as you sleep (when in fact you need to have your backs to one another to avoid having someone breathe on you), with a little person in the bed you discover that having feet, a nappy-clad bottom etc. positioned in your face is the norm. And you will put up with it if it means s/he stays asleep.
- You ideally want to wake before them and have a chance to get yourself “freshened up” before they see you for the first time that day. These days this means managing to make it to the bathroom to drag a brush through your hair, scrub your teeth and lather on some cream which promises to make you look ten years younger all before the all-demanding tyrant wakes.
- You go to bed at the same time and try to fit into their sleep habits. Gone are the nights of marathon book reading and not caring about having the light on. You go to bed together and stay in bed together. With a toddler this doesn’t have the romantic overtures but more to do with grabbing some shut eye when you can. If the toddler will only sleep if I give in and go to bed with him, I will admit to often succumbing and having an earlier night than I had planned. But hey, ultimately it means I get more sleep, as does he. So win-win. And maybe less of that expensive face cream is needed.
I will end by saying I was never a bed-sharing advocate. My 5 year old daughter never slept in our bed, not even when she was sick and I wanted to keep an eye on her. She just had no interest and was happier in her own space. So bed-sharing wasn’t on my radar until the tiny tyrant burst onto the scene a year and a half ago and refused to sleep anywhere else. He has it figured out and wants the company, warmth and security of me beside him. And he has no qualms about demanding the best and objecting to all else. Why should he? He deserves it after all.