Here we are in such an unfamiliar situation, you and I. “Strangers in a strange land”, as they say. Usually it’s Mommy who puts you to bed being the Superwoman that she is. But tonight? It’s my turn. The stage has been set – you’ve had a bath, you’ve been nursed, the lights are down, shades are drawn, fan and sound machine quietly humming in the background. You’re clearly tired what with the rubbing of the eyes and all, yet still as energetic as if you just woke up. Exploring all corners of the bed with your newfound crawling abilities, climbing Mt. Daddy and squealing triumphantly with joy at the summit, even somehow figuring out how to push pillows out of the way with your head like a bulldozer. I lay there and watch in amusement, adjusting every so often to keep you from falling off the bed and onto the wood floor.
Slowly I see you start to wear down. Little chirps of frustration – are they because you want to sleep or because you don’t want to be tired? Your arms give way on the half-pushup-to-crawl maneuvers as you deplete your energy battling the Inevitable Sleep Monster. I try to lay you on my chest to sleep just like when you were a mere infant. You rest your head on me briefly but No! The Monster will not take you tonight!!
But the Sleep Monster is winning this battle. Chirps of frustration turn to anger. No position is comfortable for you. I hear your cries – “Why am I not asleep yet??” I pick you up and slowly walk the room, rocking back and forth. Still cries of frustration, legs kicking wildly in the air as I hold you. It seems we’re headed off the cliff to a meltdown when suddenly, without thinking, I start to softly whistle The Lullaby. Our lullaby. “Great Big Stars”, the song we learned together in music class. The song that calmed you down as we paced the house in the dead of night all winter long. There it is…..
You’re quiet now, body starting to relax in my arms. Head now on my shoulder. Eyes still open but very calm, comforted by my embrace and the connection we’ve made through song. I lay back down in the bed with you resting on my chest. No struggles, no more climbing, the Sleep Monster turned out not to be a monster after all. I shift over and lay you on the bed next to me snuggled close. A heavy sigh confirms it – you’re nearly there. Eyes closed, tiny fingers gripping my thumb, head nestled against my arm. Never worry, my son, Daddy will always be here for you. A blanket pulled up slowly to keep you warm. Now let’s set sail for Dreamland……