Sawyer is our wiggliest sleeper. Family dinner conversations often turn into debates over what he’s doing in his sleep. Votes vary but we’re pretty sure he dreams of marathon running, sheet origami, soccer drills or tae kwon do. His sleep habits are in direct disagreement with his need for someone close all. the. time. Born the youngest of five, 20 months after his older siblings, this child has never been alone — I’m not sure he realizes it’s an option.
When Mark was out of town last week I caved and piled the kids into our bed. As Sawyer tried to drift to sleep he began treating me like a blanket. Once my head folded parallel to my shoulder I whispered that maybe we should try a body pillow, he could snuggle with it and the rest of us could close our eyes without being turned it into a pretzel.
He curled closer and explained he couldn’t get a body pillow because it wouldn’t be the right temperature. “What temperature does it need to be?” I whispered so we wouldn’t wake the rest of the crew. He rubbed my arm and loud-whispered back, “the temperature of you, I would need to put it in the microwave so it wasn’t hot and wasn’t cold, it was just the same warm as you.”
I lay there wide awake because I couldn’t reach my Kindle and because my mind was whirling as it only does when I’m finally ready to sleep. There is so much advice out there about how to be a mom– how to be present, how to achieve balance, how to make your kids stronger, how to raise sensitive beings– generally I don’t read it but sometimes I do. Sometimes when a headline tells me I might be causing irreparable damage or I’m especially ticked off at my lack of patience I click on the click-baity stuff and sink into that space where I could be better.
But here is the thing… when I’m reading those articles and studying those studies aimed at convincing me to move to the Netherlands or free range parent so hard my kids forget what I look like, maybe my kids are loving things about their mom that I don’t even realize exist.
What do you remember most about your mom or your dad or the person who parented you most? Their time out techniques or the red dye in your cupcake frosting? The way your peanut butter sandwich was sliced or whether they locked eyes with you 95% of the day? I remember the times my mom stayed close because she knew I would run/cry/hide from Santa/the Easter Bunny/a witch putting on her make up in my preschool class. I remember she had great nails for back-scratches.
I remember the morning my dad tried curling my bangs because my mom was sick and that front part of my mullet HAD to be curled. I remember him carrying me in the house when I faked sleep after a car ride and trying not to smile as he bumped my scraggly legs into walls.
I remember loving the way our babysitter french-braided my hair, not hating that my parents took time for themselves. I remember camping as the best adventure, not as a substitute for plane rides or hotel stays. I remember fighting like crazy with my brother all the way home from school but I have no idea what technique my mom used to discipline us. And asking so, so many times to come inside when we were playing in the backyard but never really caring when they pointed to the swing set and told us to use it.
Just by having the role of Mom, of Dad, of Grandma who’s been there since day one, these little beings give us the most important place in their heart and our only job is to fill it in. We don’t have to play Barbies with a smile or enjoy the bedtime routine that seriously takes longer than the entire day. We just have to be the one they need, the temperature we tried our best to get right.
Did you know my first children’s book is out? I would love, love, love for you to buy a copy and let me know what you think or share it with your favorite preemie family. You can buy it on Amazon or your favorite book retailer. Contact me for bulk order discounts for hospitals or preemie-related groups. Thanks so much for your support!
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