Midnight Movies

Posted on | February 8, 2011 | 10 Comments

Around midnight last night, I was lying in my bed, snuggled up to my son and trying not to laugh as he pre-emptively danced to the music in Shrek 2.  He knows the movie by heart, so he starts to dance before the music even comes on.

The moment was sort of cute, or it would have been if it hadn’t happened at midnight. 

After his mini-dance break, he returned to his stillness, each breath echoing a little wheeze, a little cough, a little heartbreak for me.  He’s pitiful when he’s sick.  We’d been trying to get him to go to sleep for ages. The process began at 7:00 when we sat down in the rocking chair, he and I and a bottle of milk. 

By 8:00 he was in full panic mode every time I tried to leave the room.  He wanted me there, right beside him, letting him use my stomach as an ottoman and my hair as a blanket. He didn’t want to be in his crib. He didn’t want to be held. He just wanted me there.  Around 9:00 he fell asleep and I gingerly placed him in his crib.

Around 9:30 his coughing woke him up and he began to cry.

So did I.

By 11:00 there was no end in sight. I took him to bed with me, curling up under the warm down comforter and occupying his mind with the only thing I could think of… Shrek.  We lay there, he and I, and our dog, AJ, snuggled up watching television at a time when most little boys are happily dreaming of snakes and snails or puppy dog tails.

Finally, Husband collected him just before one.  J was asking for water in a sweet, sleepy voice.  I don’t know what happened after that because I think I was asleep before Husband closed the door. Given the fact that they were snuggled up in the nursery bed when I left the house at quarter til 7 this morning, I think I can figure out what went down.

I don’t know how to help my son sleep. Not when he’s sick, and not when he’s well.  The only thing that seems to work is to climb in bed with him and let him roll around and around, climbing on top of pillows and pulling on the covers until he drifts to sleep.  I feel like there’s a lesson I missed. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know that he’s sick right now and I’m not overly concerned about the midnight movie, but this occurs more than I’d like to admit. Granted, I can usually get him to sleep by 9 at the latest, but I read all these stories about kids getting tucked in and kissed goodnight and happily falling to sleep and I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.

The thing is, though, I don’t mind snuggling with my son.  When he cries after I leave the room, the only thing I keep thinking is that there will be days when he cries and I will be powerless to stop the tears.  There will be things he wants or needs that I can’t give him. But for now? When he cries I have the magic answer.  I can pick him up and instantly cure whatever is wrong.

How many years will I have that power? How many more nights will he let me snuggle with him?

I don’t know the answer to that. I just know that although there are nights when I miss being able to watch How I Met Your Mother or Modern Family… ultimately, I’d rather keep him from crying while I still can.


10 Responses to “Midnight Movies”

  1. Emma
    February 8th, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

    I couldn’t recommend more highly “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” I know you are understandably resistant to sleep training. I was in your shoes, but this book saved our sanity. We spread out the process over a few weeks so there was minimal crying. We didn’t just let him “cry it out”–we had a concerted attack to ensure he was getting the sleep his body and mind needed. That was the attitude adjustment I needed to go through with it–realizing that I was truly doing this for his own good. When he was sleeping properly, temper tantrums, biting and other behavioral issues almost disappeared.

    You don’t have to read the book cover to cover, just the applicable sections. I honestly think if you try this, you won’t regret it when you look back two weeks from now. Sorry for the long comment! Just based on personal experience, I feel so strongly about the issue.

  2. Mom on a Line
    February 8th, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    You are right, while you can comfort the crying, do so. There are some tears that you cannot hug away and it will break your heart more than you can imagine when that happens. I hope you never have to have one of those moments.

    I have to say that my kids do generally go to sleep at night when I lay them down. It was painful to get to that point. We had to let them cry it out. With my son, we did it at 6 weeks. Yes, we were crazy! We laid him in his crib, gave him kisses and walked out. We’d let him cry for about 30 seconds, then we’d go in, comfort him by rubbing his head, no talking or picking up, then walk out. If he cried again, we’d go a minute before we’d go back and repeat. Each time we left, if he cried, we’d add 30 seconds. We never got over a 2 minute wait and he’d fall asleep. It took 3 nights and he didn’t even need the 2 minutes.

    We tried the same thing with my daughter and it didn’t work. She is more stubborn! That and she wasn’t home from the hospital until she was 2 months old. So, we waited until she was older. Since she was older, we gave more time before we’d comfort her. So, we’d wait about 2 minutes to start before we’d comfort. It worked for her after a couple of nights too. That being said, those moments sitting outside the room, wanting to go in and pick them up, about killed me and my husband. We had to be strong for each other.

    We still get nights where one of the kids wants us and they use all of their tricks (I need a glass of water or there are monsters on the ceiling). We go along with it all until it is beyond obvious they are trying to get us to stick around. We are firm that it is time for bed and we are leaving. Usually, that works. That way, when they are sick and need more mommy and daddy time, they know they will get it and we cuddle them up with us.

    All of that being said, one of the rules we live by in our house is they won’t be sleeping with us when they are in high school, so why worry about it now. If we are all happy with status quo, there is no need to worry about snuggling and cuddling all night long. I hope your son feels better soon.

  3. Emma
    February 8th, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    Sorry, one addendum! You will still have tons of toddler snuggles–they just won’t be necessary in order for him to fall asleep. So they become even sweeter, if that’s possible!

  4. Lizzie
    February 8th, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    Just want to echo what the first poster said…it’s not just about your sanity in not having to spend hours every night to get him to sleep, but it’s about his well being as well. He needs a certain amount of sleep, whether he realizes it or not. And part of his sleep problems may be related to the fact that he’s over-tired.

    Another question…is getting him to nap just as difficult? Because if it’s not, clearly he’s learned the nap routine. But for him right now, it sounds like the bedtime routine means (in his little mind) that if he squaks, mom or dad comes in and he can climb and play and maybe watch tv and that’s pretty cool. At some point, he needs to learn that bedtime means bedtime, and that he’s not going to win the “staying up” battle.

    Lately, my little boy has not been going to sleep right away after we put him down. But he has learned the bedtime routine, and even if he doesn’t sleep right away, he just plays quietly in his crib for a few minutes…sometimes up to 20 minutes…before he gives up and goes to sleep.

    Also, at this age, I have realized that my little boy has learned that tears and crying can be manipulative. He’s smart. So there’s definitely the “I’m hungry” or “I don’t feel good tears,” but there’s also the “I want attention” tears. And while I in no way want my little one to feel like I abandon him or don’t pay attention to him, he also is learning to be a little self-sufficient (as much as a 15 month old can be).

  5. Jessica @ Raising an Owlet
    February 8th, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

    Law Momma,
    I’m with you. My son is only 5 months old, but I refuse to let him lay in bed in cry when I can do something to comfort him now. While some folks love the Healthy Sleep Habits, I’m a huge proponent of No Cry Sleep Solutions. It feels like a much gentler approach, and your child doesn’t have to cry for hours on end while you stuff ear plugs in to not have to hear him.

    I also feel like we should cherish these moments while we can, because too soon they’ll be too big (and too cool) to sleep in bed with us, curled up watching a movie. Or in my case, sleeping soundly in my arms.

  6. Jennifer
    February 8th, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    We have one that sleeps great and one that has NEVER slept (she’s 6). I don’t think people can grasp what it is like to have a difficult sleeper and to know that the one thing that works is pulling them in bed with you. Some days the exhaustion is just so intense that’s all you can do. And that’s exactly what I did the whole time she was a baby, a toddler and a preschooler. Now that she is big kid school I wish I would have stuck to my guns and taught her how to sleep when she was younger. She has no coping mechanisms at night and can’t get herself to go back to sleep if she wakes up. She does not get good rest at all and neither do we. If you can teach him to sleep now you totally should. The pain of it now will be so, so worth it in a few years. And I can say that with the advantage of hindsight.

  7. Aim
    February 8th, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    He’ll sleep on his own, in his own time. But of course, i am completely against sleep training, so thats just my two cents….
    And also, my working mama friends say that until their kids were 2 “ish”, they needed that snuggle time at night to make up for any time missed in the day…..and by they I mean the kid and the mama needed it.
    Moral of my story? Sleep however works for you and don’t feel guilty for a second about it, as long as you are both getting some decent rest 😉

  8. Leighann
    February 8th, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    I say do what works for you! Childrens sleep habits change constantly.
    You’re doing great

  9. Crystal
    February 8th, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

    Oh man! Enjoy it now because it does go way too quickly. Someday you’ll get oodles of uninterrupted sleep….and miss the days when his sleepy little head rested on your pillow.

  10. Stephanie
    February 9th, 2011 @ 3:17 am

    Snuggle that baby! When you work…you have to get time when you can and seriously I don’t want that time being taken up with letting my son sit in his crib and cry lonely little tears…while I sit there and feel even more guilt than I already do for leaving him everyday to go to work…

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