Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Debate

Somewhere around five a.m. Sunday morning a small, chubby body crawled into bed beside me. "Emma? What are you doing?" I mumbled. "I scared," replied a tiny whisper, "I ah ba geam."

"You had a bad dream?" I asked, briefly skimming the surface of consciousness. "Yeah," she whispered and snuggled in close to me. She didn't offer any more information, but I could feel her little heart racing. I didn't doubt the reality of her fear or her need to be comforted, and I was quickly being sucked back in by the undertow of sleep. So she stayed, breaking one of my own rules: no children over the age of one are allowed to fall asleep in my bed.

This rule was born of necessity. With babies coming along every year-and-a-half everyone's safety and sanity depended on each child sleeping all night in their own bed. Yet there was something so sweet and warm with little Emma snuggled securely beside me. I'm not pregnant, I have no newborn in bed beside me now, I liked having her there with me, and it was only for a few hours anyway.

Monday morning around five a.m. a chubby hand lifted the covers beside me and a warm body snuggled up close. "Emma?" I raised an eyebrow at her. "Hi, Mommy," she smiled, "I ha ba geam." Her nose was growing too, but before I could object she reached out a loving hand and ran it along my face, "I wuf ooh, Mommy," she grinned. I was caught in her trap, I couldn't turn her away, so I smiled at her through the dim light, gave her a snuggle, and drifted back to sleep.

This morning Emma hopped in bed with me at 6:15 without bothering to give an explanation. Only this morning I didn't drift blissfully back to sleep. Emma was wide awake, tossing, turning, and humming a happy tune. Finally at 6:50 I escorted her back to her bed, where she fell back asleep, but I was not that blessed. Emma slept in, I was robbed.

Today Miss Practical and Mrs. GoodMom are locked in heated debate. "You need to break this little habit that Emma has right now before you regret it," urges Miss Practical, "If you wait till the other kids find out you'll be trying to sleep in an episode of Six Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed."

"Oh, isn't she sweet," doting Mrs. GoodMom replies, "You only have a few precious years to cuddle with that chubby cherub. You know she gets lost in the hustle-and-bustle each day. This is her way of finding that special one-on-one Mommy time that she needs. It's important for her emotional well-being. You wouldn't deny her the attention and security she needs because of your selfish desire for uninterrupted rest."

"Well," counters Miss Practical, "let's not overlook the fact that you've hardly had any chance for uninterrupted rest in the past seven years. You need your rest to be a good mom during the day. Being tired and cranky won't help you in your quest towards perfect motherhood."

"Oh, if that's the way you feel about it," sighs Mrs. GoodMom sadly, "I suppose Emma will forgive you...one day...after crying for hours in her cold bed each night, completely and utterly alone. Her therapist will help her work through her feelings of rejection and abandonment some day. You do what you have to."

"Uh, do you have a therapist, Mrs. GoodMom?" retorts Miss Practical, "Because I can give you the name of a few..."

I'll let you know who wins out tonight.


  1. When Nathan was little I read a quote that has stayed with me "A need that is met soon goes away, an unmet need lasts forever!" This was parenting advice offered up by a very wise pediatrician and parent of 9 children.

    Children come to you to help them meet their needs and it is the wise parent who helps their children learn how to live with the own idiosyncracies (fears).

    Perhaps there is a "compromise" that can be made between Miss Practical and Mrs. GoodMom. Life is always about negotiation and compromise! And what can you negotiate with Emma???? One morning a week to cuddle????

  2. Much to my relief, Emma didn't join me in bed this morning--let's hope it was a phase. I never was able to settle that debate fully. I will try to give sweet Emma some more cuddle time in the waking hours, and hopefully her need for cuddles in the twilight hours will diminish