I know it’s not a surprise to any of you when I say that my kids are very different from me. For one, they’re all boys and I’m most definitely a girl. You can tell by the way I squeal when there’s a huge spider in the house and the way they don’t and just walk up to it and smush it with their bare hands. (Apologies to my spider-friendly readers but we don’t catch and release outside. We kill.)
There are times, however, when I’m completely gobsmacked at our differences. In fact, at times they are so different from me that I don’t even know what to say or how to explain or even really be a good parent to them.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love sleep. My parents never had to give me a curfew when I was a teenager because I was always happily home by 9:30. I just loved being in my bed and knew that in order to survive the following day I needed a good 10 or 11 hours of sleep. You’re jealous of how cool I was, aren’t you?
But truly, I find such joy in the simple act of falling asleep. Head rested on pillow, body relaxed and breathing deep, eyes closed and just finding peace in those moments before you drift off. I even go so far as to contend that those of you who regularly fall asleep reading or watching a movie are robbing yourself of the preciousness of this time. My husband is one of these and I tell him repeatedly to put down the book and just let the sleep happen. Feel it. It is a most precious gift of God.
My boy feels the exact opposite of me. As in, we couldn’t be more distant than on this topic. He loathes bedtime. Hates night. Detests the act of falling asleep.
I’ve never really known what to do with this. We’ve tried sleep props like special pillows and blankets and stuffies galore. But he’s big now and these things don’t entice like they once did and even then they only did the trick for a night or two. I know there’s something bigger to it for him. Something unsettling, almost. So we pray with him and for him and blessing over him each night. We ask that he feel safe and peaceful and rest in the comfort of Jesus being near. He still hates it.
It breaks my heart because I long for him to know the joy and peace that I do in crawling into bed and falling asleep. I want him to know that this is a good thing. Something God has given us to rest and rejuvenate our minds and hearts as well as our bodies. But every night it’s the same thing.
I asked him about it tonight for the 47 billionth time. Are you scared, I ask and he assures me no. Is it the dark, I question and he shakes his little head back and forth emphatically. Then what? What is it?
His answer brought tears to my eyes. I just feel too alone, mom. Too. alone.
So we’re working on ways for him to feel less alone. Did I mention he already shares his room? Yeah, he does. His vision of ideal, seeings I asked, was 6 beds all lined up in a row in one room. One for Mom and one for Dad and one for each of his brothers and then one for him and, of course, one for the dog. I have a feeling that in his ideal his bed is also nestled in the middle of Bed Mom and Bed Dad. But I didn’t ask. I didn’t want him to overthink it.
So we’re working on a new bedtime routine. More together time and snuggles before bed. Longer getting ready routines instead of our sometimes harried rush. Less alone leading up to bedtime so that come bedtime he’s already feeling smothered and loved in the ways we want him too. In the ways we do.
What about you? Are there ways that your kids are so different then you? How do you parent them in it when you can’t quite grasp the way they think? Do any of your kids have sleep/night issues? Have you found something that helps? I’d love to know…