It’s possible for my husband and I, as parents, that our favorite word is “routine.” It has kept us on the same page when it came to bedtimes, sleep training, food, and most other kid-raising things. There were always the few friends who told us that we didn’t have to be so stringent about our sleep routine, but we liked it and it worked, both for the kids and for us.
We’d give crazy amounts of hugs and kisses, but when it was bedtime, we were all business: limited rocking, some bouncing, and then we were setting them down in their crib — where they’d put themselves to sleep like champs. There’s no denying that both kids have been silly good sleepers and I attribute that to our sleep routine. No one can convince me otherwise; it has been a blessing and has kept us sane. But more and more these days, as I look at their growing bodies and changing faces, I’m tempted to throw all of the routines out of the window and rock, bounce, and snuggle the crap outta them.
What I am seeing these days is how very big they are getting and how very fast it’s happening. Rafaella talks to me like a business woman making me offers I can’t refuse. She uses me against me, giving me the “options” on the table: “Mami, we can either go get ice cream or go to the pool. Which one?” I’ll admit, she drives a hard bargain.
Santiago explains things to me stone-faced serious while nodding his head and pulsing his Latino hands as if making me understand his ideas with just body gestures.
Rafaella, draped over me, is three-quarters of my size. Santiago opens the fridge, fetches his own water and, for all I know, can probably drive a stick shift. Both of them are way too grown. When did this happen?
My mind sprints into the future, seeing all of the times they’ll opt for sleepovers with friends instead of sleepovers in my bed. They’ll be adults before I know it and will sleep in their own apartments, let alone their own bed. And those thoughts make me feel like I’m running out of time — like any day I’ll wake up and they will have stopped asking me to sleep next to them. Being so busy trying to survive and thrive in this phase, I forget how quickly they move on to the next phase.
For the last month, we’ve been away at the beach with my parents. My husband has been able to use personal days and come for longer weekends but mostly, it’s me and the kids and a lot of room in my bed. These days, more confident as a parent and more trusting that their sleep habits are well in check, I’ve been a little less concerned with the pragmatics of sleep and more absorbed in the sentiment of snuggle.
There’s a time for everything, sleep routine included. There’s also a time to throw routine to the side and let the chips fall where they may. Every parent has their decisions to make, and knowing when to stay on a road and when to get off is all part of that journey.