There was this brief, maybe 2-week period of time when Dylan was sort of sleeping through the night. He’d sleep one night, wake up the next, sleep the next two, that kind of thing. Then he had a cold or hit a growth spurt or the planets realigned or whatever it was, and he hasn’t missed a wakeup call since.

I go to bed every night with foam plugs crammed in my ears, which I started doing in order to sleep through the tiny, not-requiring-attention noises he was making (the solitary indignant bleat, for instance, as he rolls over and momentarily gets tangled in his blanket) and have now grown dependent on. The plugs are like the cloth over a parrot’s cage, making me feel securely tucked away in a quiet bubble, ready to close my eyes and dream of a Holmes/Watson-wich (“Holmes, does your depravity know no bounds?” I certainly hope NOT, Mr. Downey Jr., and hey, Jude, how about unbuttoning that waistcoat), but they don’t block out any actual crying or anything. No, I’m all too aware of his grousing, from the instant he ramps up into the first howl.

So every night I obediently swing my feet out of bed, pull my robe on, and go to his room. Every night I pick him up and sit in the rocking chair and hold his warm body as he collapses into me. And so far, every night I put him back down and he sleeps the rest of the night without a peep.

He’s generally happy to see me when I go in there and doesn’t wake me up more than once per night, and I don’t have any trouble falling back asleep. My energy is higher than it’s ever been (high five, running!) so I don’t feel like it’s making me tired. All things being equal, of course I’d rather have him able to make it through the night without intervention, but this, right now . . . is not so bad.

Maybe it’s the feel of his small body in my arms, and the knowledge that he’s so close to not needing that at all any more. He’s entrenched in that magical, difficult stage between baby and boy, where every day he startles us with the new words he knows and the things he understands, yet still frequently throws himself to the floor sobbing. He wants kisses one minute, wants to shout “NO!” the next. He looks so tiny, then suddenly, startlingly: so big.

“Doing, Mommy?” he asks, all day long. “Doing?”

“Oh, just putting the dishes away, sweetie,” I’ll say, and he cocks his little face and tries it out for size. “Dishzz. Mommy, a’ puttin. Dishzz.”

I love the boy he’s becoming, and I didn’t expect this—because of how hard it can be, so frustrating and limiting—but lately part of me is actively mourning the baby he won’t be for much longer. I suppose the thing is, at 3 AM, no matter how hard it is to leave my own bed, I get my baby back. Just for a little while.

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Comments

61 Responses to “Tending the sheep”

  1. Anonymous on January 8th, 2010 12:40 pm

    oh so true…18 month old up at 1am last night…rocked for 30 minutes and then out like a light…staring at her tiny little face yet holding her heavy, long body just reminded me to soak it up cuz it’s going so fast…i found out this morning that i didn’t get a job that i went on 3 interviews to try and land…i’m trying not to smile too big…is that weird?…the only time in my life that i’ve been happy i didn’t get the job…

  2. The New Girl on January 8th, 2010 7:38 pm

    Beautiful.

    And for me–a great reminder of how quickly time passes.

  3. 3 Stinky Boys and Me on January 8th, 2010 8:24 pm

    I know! I have a 20 month old and I feel him slipping more and more into boyhood every day. I still go in his room once a week or so and hold him like my baby he used to be.

  4. Maria on January 9th, 2010 6:12 am

    Ahhhh beautiful. And yep.

  5. Ginger on January 9th, 2010 9:11 am

    Same here – she is 17 months and has special needs – shouldn’t she be needing me more? I still rock her to sleep though, and I don’t care how long it takes, because I absolutely must have that time holding her and breathing her in.

  6. Ali on January 9th, 2010 11:31 am

    After tending to never-ending bi-hourly needs of my four week old daughter, it was great to read that 1) OMG, they get to a stage with only ONE wake up at night?! Yippee!! and 2) I WILL miss the times when all she needed was Mommy.

    Thank you.

  7. Country-Fried Mama on January 9th, 2010 1:13 pm

    I’m reading this out loud to my three-year-old and trying not to cry. Either you touched a nerve in this mama who might be done breeding, or I’m just oh-so tired from being up with my own toddler.

  8. pixielation on January 10th, 2010 4:57 am

    Mine still snuggle into bed with us at entirely inappropriate hours of the morning. I am torn between cuddling and kicking them out!

  9. alomellin on January 12th, 2010 2:51 pm

    “Maybe it’s the feel of his small body in my arms, and the knowledge that he’s so close to not needing that at all any more. He’s entrenched in that magical, difficult stage between baby and boy, where every day he startles us with the new words he knows and the things he understands, yet still frequently throws himself to the floor sobbing. He wants kisses one minute, wants to shout “NO!” the next. He looks so tiny, then suddenly, startlingly: so big.”

    This brought tears to my eyes. My son will be 2 in February. I emailed this to my husband. It sums up our son perfectly right now. Your writing is so beautiful!

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