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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Jen - Mom of 4
Jen - Mom of 4
12 years ago

I totally understand this. My youngest is 6 years old and comes nightly to sleep on the floor of our bedroom. He starts in his own room, but around 3 am he quietly comes in and lays down on the floor next to me.

I realize that he’s 6(!!! when in the hell did he grow up?), but I also have 3 older children (all the way up to 17) and I know that soon he won’t need me anymore. When he has a bad dream and quietly asks to hold my hand in the middle of the night I grab it quickly and hold on tight for a few moments know that soon it will stop.

Keep enjoying your special time, soon they will be 17 and looking at colleges and your baby will be all grown up.

Martha
Martha
12 years ago

My little boy is 18 months and I don’t know if I’ll have a second so I totally relate to this entry. Thank you for sharing and touching my heartstrings, yet again.

Rachel
12 years ago

Love the entry, I can totally relate. My 17 month old daughter will now have nothing to do with me rocking her and just wants me to scratch her back to help her go to sleep in the night. It makes part of me rejoice since she is learning to sleep on her own better, but it breaks my heart because my baby is disappearing and being replaced by an independent little girl. I loved feeling her snuggle close and relax so completely in my arms, I miss it. Gah! I cry just typing it!

js
js
12 years ago

This is beautiful. Even more so that I know how you feel. My daughter is much older (8, nearly 9) and throughout the day I forget how young she still is, but at night, when she needs me, when I go to check on her and kiss her forehead, my baby is there for a second.

Kari
Kari
12 years ago

This is such a lovely, evocative post, even for the non-mothers among us.

Just really understood what you were saying.

H
H
12 years ago

Yes – this is what I, the mother of adults now, wish to convey to mothers of younger children. Time flies, children grow up too fast and those moments are gone all too soon. Despite how hard it is, and it is hard, find bits of joy in every moment you can. Sometimes I feel I spent too much time practically wishing away their childhoods.

MommyMagic
MommyMagic
12 years ago

I would’t be surprised if my kids have major therepy issues when they are adults. I’m so back and forth with – let mommy do it, your the baby & be a big boy and do it yourself. Mine are 2 & 4 and sometimes I can’t believe it. Both are so big but they love their mama and will always love snuggling with me. I hope!

Sharla
12 years ago

Love this post. I feel the same way about my daughter who just turned 2 last month. I’m cherishing the last few months of her baby-ness. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

Leigh
Leigh
12 years ago

Oh boy, I almost cried reading this. Mine is fifteen and I love him to pieces still, but I miss those baby years!

Marie Green
12 years ago

Only one sentence into reading this, and my own “baby” (she’s three) started grousing. She does this sometimes, and I too enjoy a few sweet cuddles from her. It seems, too, that she smells more like her baby-self during the middle of the night.

Victoria
12 years ago

oh

Nikki
Nikki
12 years ago

Thank you! That brought a tear to my eye (and I am normally not so mushy!) it sums up so eliquently, how I feel about my own baby girl. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful moment and reminding me why I can still enjoy those night awakenings.

yaya
yaya
12 years ago

Thank you for this post, I needed it. My kiddo is 2.5yr and has never slept through the night, ever. He comes toddling into our room every night between midnight & 3am, we all snuggle together but some nights seem harder than others and so often I can be found whining “oh why can’t you sleep through the *@*&@ night!” My friend who has an 8 & 11 yr old gets teary when she thinks about how her kiddos now sometimes go up to bed without even a “Good ‘night mom”, she always tells me to soak up the kiddo love, even if it is 3am. Glad I am not the only one trying to embrace this nocturnal loving :-)

I also agree with mommymagic, I think I said these two phrases 10 times today! “You are too little you can’t have that” and “No, you can do it on your own, you are a big boy” Ahhhhhhhh

JustLinda
12 years ago

You’re making my ovaries glow with radioactive like longing. Stop this minute!! LOL

I was reading some older posts on my own blog and came across the one from the beginning of last winter where I blogged about finding a pacifier in my winter coat pocket. I kept it in there – I couldn’t toss it away. Now it’s a year later, and my ‘baby’ is even older (FIVE!) and it’s still there.

Of course, I’m no longer finding it endearing. I mean, it’s an old crummy pacifier. I’d better pitch it. Still… (sigh) I miss having a little one.

(But learn from me – DON’T run out and get a puppy out of desperation. haha)

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

I’m going through the exact same thing with my “baby” who turned 2 yesterday. I hate getting up at night with her, but I am all too aware that the cuddling we do then will be gone in the wink of an eye. It is especially poigniant because she is likely my last child.

Michelle
Michelle
12 years ago

This strikes a chord with me even though my babies range in age from 14 to 21. My baybeee
is 14! When the hell did that happen! I love them more than ever but I do miss the sweet
midnight snuggles.

AndreAnna
12 years ago

My 18-mo old never wants to be cuddled or held – even as an infant. He likes his space.

But last week he had a high fever and wanted to be held and rest his little head on my shoulder.

I was sad for him and his fever but I was glad I had those moments before he’s too big to be my baby.

Amanda
12 years ago

Yes.

Shelly
12 years ago

Yes. I think they retain their baby-ness the most when they’re asleep or when they need you to snuggle.

She Likes Purple
12 years ago

Shit, Linda, this was…..so good.

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

That picture is just perfect.

erica
erica
12 years ago

My daughter is a month older than Dylan and sleeps much like Dylan has been lately as you described. I was fine until I read the last two lines of this post. Now I’m crying and at work. Damn you. :)

Kader
Kader
12 years ago

Thanks for the beautiful post. And to think someone said you’d turned into a fitness only writer. Pshaw. I like all of your posts, but I’m especially fond of the ones that remind me to soak up the present…

Bachelor Girl
12 years ago

Oh, Linda. I just love it when you write entries like this about your children.

Katie
Katie
12 years ago

Just perfect. I have a 26 month old (whaaa?) and he has been waking up a bajillion times a night, and he usually spends at least an hour in the morning snuggled in my arms. We both sigh happily for that hour and I sleep lightly, constantly aware that these days are numbered. He’s always been a horrible sleeper, but I know now that it won’t last forever. On to the next one, I suppose. :)

marilyn
12 years ago

Beautiful.

AndrewENZ
12 years ago

My daughter is at exactly the same stage. :)

rayshell
rayshell
12 years ago

oh man! Your post made me so sad! My son is 2 1/2 and comes into our room every night in the middle of the night. sometimes I dread having to share the bed with him and my hubby. Other nights, I scoop him up and cuddle him because I know it won’t last forever. Kids are so amazing yet so much work. The work is worth the rewards though! :)

laziza
laziza
12 years ago

Yup. Exactly. No one – except you, apparently – gets why I don’t REALLY mind that my 15-month-old still occassionally needs me at night.

jv
jv
12 years ago

Great post, I need to say thank you. And ditto.

mamabird
12 years ago

My daughter turns 1 tomorrow. After sleeping well from 10-6/630 from 3 to 9 months, she stopped. For the passed three months I’d get up anywhere from 2 to 4 times per night. I was about to fall apart. Sometimes all I needed to do was peek my head in the door and she’d go right back to sleep. But I was still getting up and out of bed. Then two nights ago she only woke me up one. And again last night. Mornings are still early but at least I’m getting more than 2 hours at a time. I am cherishing the time I get to hold and feed her knowing that only too soon it will not be necessary.

Joanne
12 years ago

You are a nicer mother than I am. I never want to be woken up in the middle of the night, even if it won’t last forever. I am too tired to appreciate the sweetness of it.

Jennifer
Jennifer
12 years ago

This was just lovely. I feel the same way with my boy – 14 months and likely my last baby. He does not like to be restrained in any way, but at night when it’s time for bed, he finally collapses into my arms. Though he refuses to close his litte eyes, for a few moments my big guy is just my little baby. (sniff!)

leigh
leigh
12 years ago

Apologies for the mini hijack. I saw on twitter where you used the “m” word. I sent you this before and told you that if you ever caught yourself thinking about running a marathon, read this first! http://leigh1.typepad.com/detour/2010/01/on-being-an-athlete.html

But I kid, of course you should go for it (maybe NOT hills though)

Jen W.
Jen W.
12 years ago

I use those earplugs too. My elderly dog will bark hoarsely in the middle of the night and they block that out. What a godsend because sleep deprivation=mean girl.

Kami Lewis Levin
12 years ago

My youngest son is about Dylan’s age too. He and my older one, who will be 4 very soon, are sharing a room together. I had to buy the little one a toddler bed this week because the older one was crawling into the crib with him in the mornings…his growing up is killing me. (And yet, I’m secretly grateful for it.)

seadragon
12 years ago

We are in exactly the same place with our 22-month old. He still wakes up once a night and needs comforting to get back to sleep. I think he’ll mature out of this eventually – already he’s much more soothable than he ever used to be!

I totally get the feeling of being torn between being exhausted and wanting to sleep, and yet loving those middle of the night moments.

Shannon
12 years ago

My son is almost 20 months old. He loves to read books before bedtime. He’ll bring me book after book after book and sit on my lap. I know someday he’ll old enough to not want to do that anymore so I just cherish the time.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

Maybe I’m a completely heartless bitch, but my 2.5 year old wakes up 1-4 times a night, and I don’t find it endearing. At all.

mom, again
mom, again
12 years ago

back in the day, our little guy would join us in our bed after his early morning feed. when that was done and gone, he’d join us in bed around 6 for a little nap before our alarm went off. Ever since we got rid of the crib, he’s toddled, or more lately, dashed, into our room to snuggle about a half hour before our alarm goes off.

But, ever since Christmas, he’s gone downstairs about half and hour before our alarm goes off. So I have to convince myself to go downstairs before he decides to inspect something other than the new toy trucks and trains.

I sure do miss snuggling a toasty warm footy pajamaed toddler.

bemytomato
12 years ago

I don’t even have kids, and i bawled reading your post. You write so beautifully, it kills me. I am in the process of watching my friend’s 5 year old grow up, and I remember her learning to piece everything together verbally.

“Dishzz. Mommy, a’ puttin. Dishzz.”

The sweetness, it is killing me.

Maggie
Maggie
12 years ago

Such a sweet post. My ‘baby’ is four now and I was totally blindsided by how sad I am about losing my baby. I can’t imagine how I will be when they move out for college.

Kristin
12 years ago

Oh, I know how you feel. I don’t find it very endearing when my 3 year old (previously fantastic sleeper until his sister was born) wakes up multiple times per night, but I still love getting up to nurse the baby, and she’s 5 months old.

She occasionally sleeps through the 2 a.m. feeding now, and I always still wake up, waiting to hear anything from her room. If she doesn’t wake up, I’m a tiny bit disappointed that I don’t get to go in and see her (not to mention my boobs feel like they might explode). I love holding her for those drowsy, dark 20 minutes every night. Maybe it’s because she will probably be our last baby, I don’t know, but I feel so conscious of every moment of her babyhood slipping away. It’s not like I remotely want to go through the newborn stage again…but I’m still sad that it’s over? Motherhood is confusing.

Penny
12 years ago

My daughter did this too, for a couple, years in fact, and on good nights I loved the cuddling. On bad nights I was all JUST ONE DAMNED NIGHT OF SLEEP is all I ask for! And now, with a second child, one who wakes up no less than a half dozen times at night and can NOT be consoled, I think: boy how good I had it.

And STILL, despite the enormous sleep deprivation I have with #2, I absolutely love the baby and know that I’ll miss him. The good parts of him, at least.

Mary
Mary
12 years ago

My baby’s 3 weeks old, and sleeping through the night is a small speck of light at the end of a long tunnel. I wake up with every little squeaky sound she makes. And if she doesn’t make a sound for a while, I reach over the edge of her bassinet and paw around for her little warm breath. It’s possible to feel two opposite things at the same time, I think–this is the hardest, most exhausting thing on the planet, but also the most joyous, happiest, heart-growing time ever. I never want it to end. And I can’t wait for it to end. If that makes sense.

My mom was here for the first 2 weeks after the baby was born, and several times I just put my head in mom’s lap and cried and cried while she stroked my hair and told me all this was normal, I’m a great new mom and it would all get better soon. Each night she’d give me a kiss and say “Goodnight baby,” then kiss little Lydia and say “Goodnight baby’s baby.” I’m 33 and, well, we’ll always need to collapse onto our mamas sometimes.

Feast After Famine
12 years ago

I hear you. I can feel that I won’t be nursing my 15-month much longer — and he’s the last of four – so I’m making mental pictures every day, savoring the warmth and the special noises, even indulging his playful fingers up the nose or in my eye…. because I know this time is fleeting.

beccado
beccado
12 years ago

I love this post! I was holding my 9 month old this morning as he slept on my shoulder (all tuckered out from stuffing his face at breakfast, I guess) and I teared up thinking about the day that his little head wouldn’t fit perfectly on my shoulder anymore. And somehow you articulated my thoughts perfectly, thank you :-)

Mama Kat
12 years ago

Maybe it’s time for more BABIES!!!

akeeyu
akeeyu
12 years ago

Fitz-Hume (almost two) does the same thing: A peep at midnight to get into bed with me, a hug at four am, then she wakes me up in the morning with nudges and hugs and kisses and refuses to get out of bed until we’ve snuggled for a good long time.

Milbarge is the same way, but with Sam. In the morning, they always seem to wake up the same way: Sprawled across half the bed, limp and bleary, as if there was some awesome kegger to which I was not invited. When I try to wake them up, Sam growls and Milbarge burrows into his armpit, which apparently doubles as a snooze alarm.

This morning while Fitz-Hume was pulling my face down for nose kisses, I thought “I wouldn’t trade these mornings for all the sleep in the world.”

Brenda
12 years ago

At least I’m not at work reading this with tears streaming down my face. my baby is 21 and I love it when he give me a big hug and puts his head on my shoulder just for a second. he use to get up in the night and want to get into bed with us. Then I put a blanket on the floor and a pillow and he slept there. then he started to grow up. went to school, graduated hs. joined the marines. Served 2 tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and then came home met a cute girl and they are getting married next September. Two of my kids have babies, so I get to cuddle those little squirts. Not quite the same tho.

Beautifully written.