When Theodore was just a baby and I’d complain about the hardships of being a new mom, people would always tell me to cherish each moment because in a blink of an eye it would be over. I always felt a bit annoyed when someone told me that because I was living in the difficulty and that advice did ZERO to help me. But as Theodore is growing, changing and becoming more independent that statement hasn’t ever been more true.
We survived the hard times and although there are still some challenging days, like when nothing works and he’s just an emotional wreck on the floor screaming or when he’s sick and there is nothing I could do to ease his pain. One thing I have tried to do is to cherish these moments because these are fleeting moments and the memories will last forever.
We decided or rather, Theodore decided for us that we would co-sleep with him. It was to keep my sanity and to help our restless troubled sleeper of a child feel more comfortable and sleep through the night. It was a challenging time because although our sweet angel was sleeping, neither myself or Daniel were. And we hardly slept in the same bed, Daniel was banished to the guest room (which in hindsight isn’t such a bad deal) and I slept with Theodore. We would switch on weekends or when I needed a few good nights of sleep, but Theodore never slept alone nor in the beautiful German crib we bought him in his elephant decor room. Nope. Not one night. Our one-time attempt to sleep train him left us reeling from the experience so we decided, “f*** it, he’s sleeping with us”. Fast forward to 2.4 years later and he was still in our bed. At first this was necessary to get him to sleep through the night, but it became necessary for us to hang onto our sweet baby boy for as long as we could (well…maybe it was for me). I hadn’t mind Theodore being in our bed, even though I missed Daniel. We made it work and there was no rush to get him into his room, until one day out of the blue, our big boy decided for himself.
That’s right. Saturday, April 18th 2020 will be a day I will never forget. When his afternoon nap approached he simply said he wanted to sleep in “Theodore’s bed” when I asked him again just to be sure he was adamant that yes, he in fact meant that today he would sleep in his big boy bed. And so he did. He still needed my elbow skin for comfort in order to fall asleep (a weird thing he likes to do), but other than that, he slept soundlessly for 2 hours. We were not at all prepared for this and hadn’t put up the barrier for his crib that was converted into a daybed. But now the fear him rolling off his bed and traumatizing him from sleeping in his bed made us build a pillow fort around him so that if he did roll off, he’d fall into a fluffy cloud of pillows.
At first I thought it was a fluke, there was no way he’d be able to sleep there on his own. I’ve heard countless stories from other mothers about training and taking it slowly when transitioning children to their own bed, but perhaps since he was ready and he made this choice that he didn’t need the adjustment. I expected to have him cuddled up against me that night in bed, but once again he wanted to sleep in his bed… and he has been there ever since. Fast forward to a week later, we let him sleep alone in his room overnight and there wasn’t so much as a peep from him. We probably could have done it sooner, but Daniel insisted that he needed to sleep on the floor in Theodore’s room, just in case he woke up and freaked out that his parents weren’t there or if he fell through the pillow fort someone would be there to pick him up. I think in truth, Daniel needed it because he wasn’t ready to let our big boy sleep alone. And although I enjoyed my large bed to myself, I missed my little hot body ball next to me with his limbs on top of me, the not-so-gentle slap across my face when he wanted to get closer to me or his dead-weight head crashing and colliding with my nose because he wanted to sleep on my face. Suddenly it was gone without any warning or time for ME to adjust. And that’s when I remember the poem that I had read so long ago it was called…
The Last Time (author unknown)
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms you will never be the same
You might long for the person you were before
When you had freedom and time
And nothing in particular to worry about
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before
Days will run into days that are exactly the same
Full of feedings and burping
Nappy changes and crying
Whining and fighting
Naps or a lack of naps
It might seem like a never-ending cycle
But don’t forget…
There is a last time for everything
There will come a time when you will feed your baby for the very last time
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down
And never pick them up that way again
You will scrub their hair in the bath for one last time
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone
They will hold your hand to cross the road
Then will never reach for it again
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus” and do all the actions
Then never sing them that song again
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times. And even then, it will take you a while to realize.
So while you are living in these times, remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.
So although you may have heard it from every mom you have ever spoken to or that it’s starting to annoy you just as it did me, CHERISH THIS TIME, because before you know it, it’ll be the last time.