Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Finding the Good in the Bad

I date myself with this reference, but I've had The Facts of Life theme song stuck in my head the last couple days.

"You take the good,
You take the bad,
You take them both and there you have
the facts of life."

(apologies for the ear worm)

It's been that sort of week around here. In the last few days, my kids have experienced some of their highest highs and some of their lowest lows. I've felt pride and exhilaration, but I've also experienced fear and anxiety.

Sunday night was one of the bad ones. After a very late and stressful Saturday night, the kids and I both needed sleep. Three hours after the first bedtime, all three of us were still awake at 10:30 p.m. dealing with some pretty upsetting stuff.

My son found me standing in the kitchen eating toast, because I'd forgotten to eat dinner. My daughter had requested crackers. So my son grabbed a Luna bar, and we all had a snack during what felt like the middle of the night. No amount of talking or being awake was going to solve our problems; what we needed more than anything was sleep.

After our snack, I pulled a desperate move. I suggested that all three of us climb into my king-size bed and try to fall asleep (my husband was out of town).

Co-sleeping may not sound like a desperate move to you, but we have never let the kids sleep in our bed. Sleep is too precious a commodity to disturb with tiny elbows in your nose. Exhausted and out of better ideas, I thought the novelty and togetherness of sharing a bed might do the trick.

Each kid came to my room armed with blankets and stuffed animals. Knowing there was no way I'd be able to sleep in a crowded bed, but hopeful that the kids would, I took the middle to separate them. Flanked by both kids, I lay flat on my back with one kid's backside against my back and the other's legs kicking mine.

Over the next several minutes, the most magical thing happened. I felt them each gradually relax and fall into sleep. The very proximity that made the arrangement uncomfortable also afforded me this rare glimpse of the past. I had forgotten what it felt like to experience my child's falling asleep.

When they were babies, I held them in my arms, looking downward at the angle of their eyelashes to see if their eyes were closed. When they were stubborn toddlers who didn't want to nap, I could watch exhaustion overcome their will in the backseat of the moving car. But they are big kids now, and I send them back to their rooms to fall asleep on their own.

At at moment when I felt most vulnerable, feeling their not-so-tiny bodies slow down, relax, and gradually fall into sleep was one of the nicest gifts I could have been given. As they relaxed, I did too. We all fell asleep together in one uncomfortable but very comforting jumble.




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