The time is 8:32 p.m. I notice the time because TheMonk begins to cry in his crib. It’s been a rough past couple of days for TheMonk. He’s fighting yet another cold and it has drained him.
I go up to check on him and give him a drink of water. He is fussy, however, and instead of lying back down as usual, he cries out louder and yells out that he wants to go “downstairs.”
I remind him that it’s night time (he’s been in bed for an hour and a half) and that it’s time to go to sleep.
“NO! DON’T WANNA GO TO SLEEP!” he screams. “WANNA GO DOWNSTAIRS.”
I am firm. I gently rub his back and exit the room. He continues to cry.
I listen for it to die down. After about 10 minutes it appears he’s going to finally calm down. Instead, he finds a second wind and screams yet again.
Feeling like I should go in, I enter and again rub his back. He is hysterical now and sobbing heavily. I pick him up and he wraps his arms tightly around my neck. His legs wrap around my torso and he squeezes me harder than he has ever hugged me in his life. I squeeze back and kiss his wet cheek softly.
“It’s time to go to sleep, my little man.” I tell him. “I love you but it’s time to sleep.”
He protests as I lay him down and once again, as I close the door behind me, he begins to scream. Once again I let him cry. Andrea is out for the evening and I don’t have her to consult with. My mind goes over all the parenting books I have read and I decide to let him cry a little longer. I don’t want to reinforce this behavior and have him crying for the next week.
But after another 10 to 15 minutes of screaming I can’t take it anymore. I rationalize that if I don’t actually take him downstairs, that would be okay. I creep into his room and scoop him up while Swee’Pea tries to sleep in the next crib.
I carry TheMonk out to our loft area and position myself on the chaise section of our sofa. I hold him in my lap and and we snuggle on the chaise, letting the sounds of the fish tank fill the room. TheMonk has stopped crying and he places his little hand on my hand and rests his weary head against my chest.
I kiss his damp forehead and hold him tighter. My mind wanders back two years to a time when we would often have early morning snuggles after a feeding. I think back to the times when I would hold my baby boy in my arms in this very spot and how I never thought I’d get to feel that again. Now that I have wiggly two-year-olds, snuggling is few and far between.
It turns out, my little boy, that you didn’t want to go downstairs. No, it turns out you wanted to spend some time with your Daddy. We lay there while you asked me questions in an effort to prolong the moment. “Where’s my car at?” you ask. “Where’s my mask at?” you ask. “Is Swee’Pea sleeping?” you wonder.
I answer your questions and hold you there in the still of the night. I place my hand on top of the one that is resting on my arm and I gently play with your little fingers. You look up at me and smile. I give you a kiss on your warm cheek and pull you close one more time. As if you recognize the time, you ask me… “I go to sleep now?”
“Okay, Monk.” I say. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
You turn over and I pick you up as you squeeze my neck again and rest your head on my shoulder. I rest my cheek against yours as I carry you to your room. I give you one last kiss and place you gently in your crib – cherishing each moment – holding on to this memory of love and warmth that I so want to be a part of your life forever.
I place your stuffed monkey under your arm and I quietly tip-toe out of the room. I can hear you getting comfy and settling in to finally sleep.
You didn’t want to go downstairs. You wanted to be with your Daddy.
Your Daddy wanted to be with you too.