Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bittersweet Bedtime

Do you find that there are times when everything in mothering just seems so poignant? When every moment is filled with powerful emotions? I have hit one of those times. Normally, life is racing so quickly that it's all I can do just to make it through the day and while I spend time with my children, I am not thinking all that much about it. The last few days have been really emotional (it might be just that it's summer and things have slowed down and I actually have time to think).

First, there's bedtime. Little Bean (who used to be Baby Bean) is growing up and I don't feel ready for it. For a little bit over the last year, he has started the night in his co-sleeper and then come into bed with me, usually about 2 hours into the night. I know, I know, he was super old to be in the co-sleeper still but it was working for us (well, for him, anyway) and I just didn't have the energy to move him. He has recently discovered that he can peek over the side and throw things over and it has become obvious that it would only be a matter of time until he was the thing vaulting over the side so a move would have to be made. I'd love to say that we moved him into his room and he started to sleep through the night in his crib. I'd be lying. He still nurses off and on all night and while I have every intention of dealing with that, I just haven't been courageous enough to challenge it (I know it will involve nights of screaming). We just got back from visiting the in-laws and so it seemed like the perfect time to make a move. Two nights ago, I started LB in his own crib. It took a long time to get him to go to sleep (he was sufficiently amused by the bars that I am a bit concerned that he might enjoy a stint of incarceration later in life). Then, he slept in his crib, on his own, until almost midnight (at which point I went in and joined him in the bed beside his crib in his room). I should have been overjoyed. For the first time in a year, I started the night in my own bed alone and I even got to read and write in my journal in bed for a while before I went to sleep. How did I feel? Bereft. I laid in bed and cried. I just kept looking at the co-sleeper that was empty other than a collection of soothers and thinking about the fact that I would never have another baby there. All of those times of lying in bed, looking at his beautiful face beside me while he slept were over. I missed knowing that he was safe beside me and being able to put a hand on his chest to feel him breathing. I was so sad.

There's also the breastfeeding thing. I am still nursing, although right now, it's mostly at bedtime and at night, with maybe one daytime feed late in the afternoon. Every time I nurse LB, I ponder the fact that we won't be doing this for much longer. I am not someone with big issues about how long we nurse - while I am not ready to stop, I don't envision that we will be nursing until LB is two. With Pk, I basically let her decide and she was done at 16 months - it worked wonderfully for both of us. This time round, though, the decision feels more fraught. I know that this will probably be the last time that I share that kind of intimacy with my babies and that makes me so sad and yet, really, at this point, it's not as much fun anyway. I know that it's not meeting critical nutritional needs anymore and, not that I am that worried about what other people think, I know that societal support for breastfeeding definitely seems to wane after the baby is a year old and there are those around me who would love to see me stop now (who shall remain nameless other than to say that Dh is totally supportive and it is not him). LB has mixed feelings about it now, too (other than during the night - another reason that I am putting off night weaning, it will pretty much put paid to my supply, I am guessing). Every time I nurse him, I feel a little bit sad. My doctor said that with her son, who was her last, she had her husband take a few discreet photos of her nursing to capture the moment. I can't believe that I am actually pondering that.

Finally, there's Pk. She is hovering right now between still being that little preschooler and turning into a "big girl". It breaks my heart. I don't know what it is. I sat and watched her at swimming yesterday from the viewing gallery and she looked so little and young but we have conversations that reveal that maturity is coming. She is such a mix of baby and girl... I tend to think of her as being fairly young (maybe it's because most of our friends with daughters have older girls and so I am making unrealistic comparisions) and when I seem glimpses of the older girl, it takes my breath away. I am so excited about the joys we will share but I am also so afraid for her - the world isn't always a kind place and up until now, I have been able to keep her largely sheltered from the worst. She is going to face rejection, judgement and betrayal - it kills me to think that I can't protect her from everything. I know that I have to let her go and find her own wings if I want her to be able to fly down the road but right now, I am so aware of hovering on the precipice and it makes me feel such a sense of grief for all the joy that has come so far and is so fleeting.

So, there's my emotional baggage for today. I'd love to hear that I am not the only one who's so emotional about my kids... This is just part of mothering, right?


  1. It is part of mothering and I'm afraid it won't go away until they go away.... I remember rocking my girls as babies thinking, "I wonder what it will be like to do this for the last time"....and now I don't even remember when the last time was. I try to remember that when each stage ends, another is beginning and it's exciting in a new way.

    I loved that I could breastfeed both of my daughters - and I don't miss it now. I loved carrying my children in baby carriers or pushing them in strollers - but I also love that they can walk on their own and we don't have to pack the extra things.

    Some things don't end....hugs, kisses, and reading books together!

  2. I'm glad to know that I'm not just over emotional, but sad to know that it doesn't end! Why I thought it would end is beyond me. My mom nursed me until she was pregnant with my sister around 24ish months. I was closer to three I think. I plan to do the same as you, nurse until Oliver calls it quits, or until #2 needs a turn.

    I know I will be just as sad when Oliver is finally in his crib. I don't know when that will be. He's been sleeping through the night, but I love snuggling with him, feeling him breathe in the night, smelling his sweet baby breath (did I take it too far?!) :) Thinking of you!

  3. He sleeps through the night for you? I am so envious! I love having LB with me but I would love it even more if I wasn't awake for so much of the experience, LOL.
    Thanks, ladies, you are always able to make me feel like I am not totally insane.

  4. We do all have those times. I'm not entirely looking forward to the fact that I think this fall/winter will be time to get Bun out of the high chair and the crib. It's harder to let that little one grow up, and also harder to make yourself take on the things that you know are going to be struggles because there is so much less energy for those things with two!

    But I also know that Pippa will have her moments of hurt, but will be resilient and strong, and she will be okay.