When it comes to our children, we pay so much attention to their “Firsts”. First step. First word. First visit to the dentist. First day of school. First loose tooth. But how often do we think about our child’s “lasts”. Last time we watched them crawl. Last time we changed a diaper. Last nap. Last time in the stroller, high chair or car seat. Last lost tooth. All those lasts that come and go and we miss them because we don’t even know we are going through a “last” or we are too busy focusing on what comes next.
Sometimes when you are going through a tough season you can only see the end game: “if we can just get them potty trained”, “if we can just get them sleeping through the night”, “If we can just get them to ride a bike without training wheels”. And while we are so focused on the end result, are we are missing out on the moments we are living in…right now?
Recently, my four-year old son has decided that he needs one us to lay in bed with him until he falls asleep… every night. So, we do it. Either my husband or I. We lay down in his bed for anywhere from 5-15 minutes and watch him as he slowly and peacefully drifts off to sleep.
Rewind 2 years ago. This would not be happening! I would be missing out on this sweet bonding time with my son. Why? Because I viewed bed time as a time to go to sleep. It was MY time once they were in bed. I had so precious little of it that I coveted even 5 extra minutes.
So what changed? My perspective.
After 6 exhausting months of living with a newborn, who never slept more than 20 minutes at a time, I was a walking zombie. Until, that is, I learned about “sleep training”. Once I figured that out, there was no one who could convince me having my kid in bed was a good idea. And at that time, I believe it was the best thing for my family. It saved my sanity.
But things change. I changed. As the kids get older, I find I’m more relaxed about most things. Even open to hearing other’s perspectives on touchy parenting subjects. One of the most enlightening conversations I had was about letting your child sleep in your bed. One friend was complaining that her 18 month old son was still sleeping in her bed. My other friend replied “Oh, I really don’t mind when my kids come into my bed in the night. Sure, I don’t get a very good night sleep because they are kicking and tossing and turning sideways. But I think it’s so sweet they still need me. I mean, they aren’t going to be sleeping in my bed when they are 14”. Wow. I never really thought of it that way.
My mom always says she enjoyed each stage of our childhood. Because everyone is wonderful and new and different and then it was over before she knew it.
Ask a parent of a teenager when the last time their child crawled into their bed or snuggled with them on the couch. My kids are only 7 and 4 and yet I’ve already gone through so many lasts without even knowing it. Some because up until recently, there was always a tiny possibility in my mind that we might have a third child. So I didn’t really need to pay attention to the lasts. But now that door is shut, I’m paying attention. I want to enjoy each stage that they go through because one day it will be the “last” and I won’t even know I missed it.
Until I write again…