My children are now 10 and 8. The baby days are long gone. I can no longer pick them up. I'll never carry them on my hip again. I miss it. But this season is beautiful, too. They're amazing to watch as they transform into young men a little more each day.
I know many of you reading this have babies, toddlers and preschoolers. You don't get a full night of sleep, ever. You're bone tired, but it doesn't matter because they still need you constantly.
I have to confess, I co-slept with my kids until they were 7 and 5. That's when they said they were ready for me to go. I slept in their room. Neither of my kids slept through the night until they were 3. THREE. That's a lot of interrupted sleep. I'd get the toddler back to sleep around the same time the baby woke up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Even when they did finally start sleeping through most nights, they still couldn't fall asleep without me.
I chose to do it my way even though the doctor said “get him out of your bed" and others warned how I'd ruin them. I questioned my decisions constantly. Would they ever sleep all night? Would they need me to move into their dorm room one day to rub their backs and tell them a story? I didn't know. I just kept following my heart and putting my faith in love.
Now don't misunderstand. I'm not saying this is what anyone SHOULD do. No, no. You do it your way. You follow your heart. There is no one right way to do this, mamas and daddies.
I just wanted to offer this up to those of you who have chosen to co-sleep or who still have kids that wander into your bed at night or wake several times. For those of you who still lay by your child until they fall asleep. I remember the exhaustion. I remember wishing that they would just please, please go to sleep and stay asleep for once. I remember feeling it would never end.
I remember the tired, but even more so, what really sticks out in my mind as I look back on those days are the giggles, the stories, the laughter, the scent of baby shampoo, the love. The LOVE.
I remember taking pretend adventures to outer space or gathering gems from the cave of a dragon. I remember sneaking my arm out from under his head and catching a glimpse of his sleeping face in the moonlight and tears welling up in my eyes because, oh my gosh, how lucky am I?
And even now, once a weekend I say, “Come in here, let's have a sleepover in my room." We watch movies and fall asleep in a tangled heap of long limbs, and I try to fit in the 4 inches of space that's left because I know if babyhood was just yesterday, then, well, tomorrow they'll be grown and gone. Then I'll have an empty space awaiting grandchildren to come and fill it.
So, snuggle them up. Don't let anyone make you feel like you're doing something wrong, or not being tough enough. Don't let them scare you into thinking you're ruining your kids or bully you into making a decision that doesn't feel right to you. You just snuggle them and hold on tight and know that this long, trying and exhausting day will be your beautiful, sweet and cherished memory tomorrow.
That's the power of love.
This article was originally published on Positive Parenting.