My kids are completely crazy about their dad, but at night only mama will do. It’s one of those great joys of being a mother. They want you when they are grumpy, sore, tired or in the middle of the night – any other time, when they are happy and full of beans and just want to play and have fun, then it’s all daddy, daddy, daddy.
So the average night in my household goes thus…
At about 12am Willow comes shuffling into our room, she’s clutching on average 5 to 6 of her favourite stuffed toys (and sometimes a book and/or Barbie) and she wants to get into our bed. She always comes to my side and just stands there until my subconscious wrenches me out of sleep and, against my better judgement, haul her into the bed. I let her lie there for a bit until her wriggling, coughing, elbows and general presence drives me to tears. I shove her further and further over to her father’s side of the bed, but he never seems to notice, so I scoop her up with her menagerie of stuffed creatures and take her back to her bed.
I then lie for a bit willing myself back to sleep, when at any time between 1am and 4am Jimmy starts to cry. His new MO is to dramatically let forth blood curdling screams that are so high pitched they send us leaping out of bed, hearts pounding, rushing around to warm up bottles, check nappy and administer Calpol before rocking, soothing and generally praying for him to calm down and go back to sleep. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn’t. It’s all very touch and go at the moment. Is it teeth, we wonder? Is it bad dreams or a pain somewhere, or is it just the enjoyment of cuddles and warm milk at some ghastly hour of the morning? We will never know and because it could be the former there is no way we feel we can take a hard line with him. He has us between a rock and a hard place and something tells me he knows it.
Once J is soothed and quiet, we’ll creep back into bed and try to defrost and get back into sleep mode, despite the frazzled nerves. Then, timed perfectly to coincide with my pulse returning to normal, my heart pounds me into full wakefulness as I hear the familiar shuffle of Willow and Co coming back across the landing.
It’s a circus. Our nights are as busy as our days and despite the numerous books, blog posts and friendly advice we have absorbed we can never agree on the right course of action. We play good cop, bad cop. Are they scared, or sore or master manipulators? I guess that’s the question every parent asks at 4am, as they stand cold and exhausted, yelling at each other over their shrieking child.
Amazing though, that after such a night, they wake up in the morning, smile and I feel like I love them so much I could die. All the sins of the night before forgotten (theirs, not mine. I beat myself up for being the worst, most impatient mother on earth for at least 15 minutes). This motherhood thing is not for the faint-hearted!