Last night was a night I wasn’t mentally prepared for. Not at all. I thought, at the end of the day, I would still be what my not-so-tiny baby needed to fall asleep when the sun went down and the time for bedtime snuggles came about. I thought wrong.
Richi, my darling little 11-month old baby boy, decided he just didn’t need mommy to put him to sleep after all. After all these 11 months, every single night, at every single bedtime and for every single nap, mommy has been right there to hold him, snuggle him, nurse him, lay with him, and even sleep next to him. I had been there to hold him against my chest skin to skin as a newborn as he listened to the rhythm of my heartbeat, a familiar sound he grew to love and be comforted by in utero. I had been there when he grew a bit to lay side by side, chest to chest with him, snuggled face to face, as he closed his little eyes and drifted off to dreamland. And, even still, as he grew ever more, I was there as he began to face away from me but still wanted my hand on his back, gently rubbing his back as I sang ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ to him while he was lulled into a safe, comfortable sleep.
But last night was different. Last night, my sweet boy decided he wanted to sleep on his own. Last night, he decided to lay down in his crib when I set him there for just mere minutes so I could change into my comfortable pajamas, and when I came back, he was sound asleep. Not only did he decide to put himself to sleep, but he decided to sleep all night long for the first time ever – without waking up or making even the slightest peep. Not even once. My sweet, sweet boy…how much you’re growing.
I remember the tears welling in the corners of my eyes as I stood there, looking lovingly and longingly at my once tiny baby boy, and thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my gosh…he actually fell asleep without me. I am so proud of him. But…my little baby is growing up…and I’m not ready.’
I left my bedroom to tell my older kids what just happened, and in an instant, I broke down into a blubbering mess of tears. “He doesn’t need me to fall asleep anymore, he’s a big boy now,” I found myself saying. Amid hugs and, ‘It’s okay mom, he still needs you!’ from all 3 of my biggest supporters, I found myself blessed and loved, and comforted. I stopped crying and thanked them all for their love. And then Alex chimed in with a, ‘ Well, mom, you know, I did sleep with you every night for like, 8 years, sooo…there’s hope.’. He made me laugh – because it was true. Every single night I would lay in Alex’s bed with him, putting him to sleep and reading him stories, telling him made up stories, or singing songs with him. I looked forward to it every day. We both did. That small bit of time was something I will cherish forever, and I know he will, too.
My baby boy might be growing up, and even though there’s not much I can do about that, I have to remind myself of how thankful I am that we have made it this far, and how incredibly, incredibly blessed we are that he is with us today. So many things could have gone wrong, and the odds were against us from day one. But I can promise myself that I won’t ever take one single step of his life for granted. And I know at the end of the day, he will always need me. I will always be his mama. And that alone is enough to paint the biggest smile across my tear stained face. He will always and forever be my baby.