“Mama please lie down with me”
Often at bedtime when my child asks me this my answer is ‘Just for a second, Sweetie’. I want her to just go to sleep and there are a million and one things I’m itching to do once the bedtime routine is done with.
Also I know she’ll do almost anything to draw out bedtimes and I don’t want to make lying down next to her for ages another part of this. But those times when I do lie next to her, have led to the funniest and most beautiful moments together. Ones that I will treasure forever.
So often she’ll say the funniest things, the most honest things. As she talks to me in the dark, some of her thoughts and feelings emerge that I might never have known were there if I hadn’t laid down by her side.
In the dark the funniest things come out
As my daughter’s mind relaxes and she starts to unwind, she’ll come out with her own special observations about her day.
She’ll tell me how she tried so hard not to giggle out loud when her teacher said a silly word in school. Or she’ll offer her own very honest ideas on life. Once she asked if we could get a kitten. When I explained that I was allergic to them she replied ‘But Mummy, you could sleep outside’.
Or she has said to me ‘Mum, you were my very best friend until I went to nursery and got real friends of my own’.
I try to stifle the giggles and keep her calm before bedtime but she always picks up on them and starts giggling herself.
She eventually stops laughing and drifts off to sleep and I always think that going to sleep happy must be the best thing ever.
In the dark her real worries emerge
There’s something about the quiet closeness of laying together in the darkness of her room that helps her open up. Her deeper worries come to the surface and she’ll tell me about them in a low hushed voice. And I let her talk and just listen.
She tells me about her friendship worries, what a teacher might say to her if she did something naughty, what would happen if it started snowing tomorrow.
Sometimes she asks about the really big issues like ‘What if Mummy or Daddy die like Isla’s Mummy did?’. And I can try to reassure her and chat to her about them all.
It’s because we’re there together in the dark that she has a chance to think about and to share her feelings and worries. And it’s because I’ve laid down next to her that I have a chance to hear about all the things on her mind.
I can talk to her about them and to try to make them a little better for her before she drifts off to sleep. And those moments I wouldn’t change for the world.
In the dark we feel closest together
Those moments when we lie there side by side and whisper together until she drifts off, are the most special to me.
Eventually she goes quiet and I feel her small body next to mine, her little foot pressing heavily against my side. Her hand reaching out to twirl strands of my hair. Her breath getting heavier and heavier as she falls asleep in my arms.
It takes me right back to when she was a tiny baby and relaxed so heavily and so safely into my hugs as she fell asleep. I still feel so honoured to be her safe pair of arms to fall asleep in.
Sometimes, just before falling into a deep sleep I’ll hear her try to say one final thing. I can’t always make sense of it and it’s as if all the thoughts of the day have been jumbled into one last thought that’s half reality and half dream. Even when it’s nonsensical it can still give me an amazing glimpse into how her little mind works and what she’s feeling.
I will lay down with you baby
You won’t be little for long. The dishes can wait. The jobs can wait. And when you ask me to lay down with you I will. For those are our magic moments together.