My boy has been feeling under the weather and for the last few nights, just around bath time, has come a small plaintive request;
“Mummy, I still feel poorly. Can I sleep in your bed tonight?”
My husband sighs and shakes his head but his eyes betray his smile. He is smiling at the simplicity of the boy’s request; at how little it takes for him to feel safe and cared for. He is also smiling because it means he will have to squeeze his large man-frame into a very small toddler bed located upstairs from everyone else, and will therefore enjoy a night undisturbed by the random cries, snores and snuffling which usually punctuate our sleep on an exhaustingly regular basis.
My son’s eyes light up when we agree that he can sleep with mummy;
“Just for tonight though…” I warn him with little effect.
Once in his pyjamas he scampers into the bed positioning himself firmly smack bang in the middle and waits expectantly for his bedtime stories.
Usually a minimum of three stories and as many songs is required before he will agree to surrender his grip on his day, but when in mummy’s bed he needs much less knowing that he is on slightly uncertain ground and better not push his luck if he is to avoid eviction by an exasperated mother.
Stories and songs complete he snuggles down contentedly.
“You coming to bed soon mummy?” he asks.
I assure him that I will be up very soon to check on him.
“Will you give me a kiss when you come up?”
I tell him that I always do, and he is happy with this.
His eyes close, and his long eyelashes rest on his perfect cheek. His breathing slows down and becomes regular. I pull the door shut and walk downstairs to the rest of my evening.
Later, when I come to bed, he has crept over on to my side hugging my pillow tight. He is hot underneath the thick duvet, and when lifting him onto the other side of the bed I let some air under his pyjama top to cool him down. His hair is damp on his forehead and he smells like wet puppy and fresh baked biscuits rolled into one. As I lift him he stirs and throws his arms around my neck holding me tightly. I whisper reassurance and as I get into bed next to him he relaxes his grip and snuggles in close, his face against my face, his arms and legs a jumble of limbs trying to slot comfortably into me.
I remember back to when that body did fit snugly into mine. When I would spend evening after evening hypnotised by the activity inside me, wondering whether it was tiny hands, elbows or feet that were causing my stomach to undulate of its own accord. I marvelled then at the sheer miracle of this tiny life and I marvel now at the love I have for this small, loud, exasperating, chaotic, wonderful child I am so lucky to know.
I lie there with his hot nightbreath beating against my cheek and cannot sleep. I am not comfortable and every attempt I make to move slightly away from him causes murmured protest. So I lie there simply loving my boy as he twitches to the rhythm of his dreams, and I listen to him breathing in and out, in and out, in and out.
Just for tonight though….