Sleepy Heads by Robin Gorman Newman
When my son was little, we expected to be up during the night with him, but since he recently turned 8, those days are long gone. Or are they?
In the last week and a half, Seth's been waking up consistently around 3AM, unable to fall back asleep until about 5AM. My husband I are take turns laying with him in his bed, but to no avail. We both emerge exhausted, ultimately leaving my son to go back to sleep himself because our laying with him isn't helping.
Seth's been having nightmares.
I posted on Facebook about it, inviting other moms to weigh in and offer advice.
I received some very thoughtful and concerned responses, but it made me realize all the more that while children will be children, and they share that commonality, that's where things end. What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another. And, each has their own way of thinking and evolving.
I tried more than once to ask Seth was he dreamt about. Mostly he was unable to articulate, except for the night there was a rain and wind storm, and the noise bothered him. Then he was able to share how he was scared that a tree might fall on our house, which is not all that far fetched since our neighborhood is tree dense, and we have lost power on more than one occasion. I did my best to try to reassure him that this wasn't going to be a regular occurence (and I prayed it wouldn't be).
A friend mentioned that perhap he had watched something upsetting on television. That was certainly a logical thought, though I couldn't put my finger directly on anything recent that fit that bill.
Another friend mentioned that at Seth's age, kids become more aware of the world and things around them, cause 'n effect and all. So, that could be a contributing factor.
While my husband and I tried our best to flesh out the situation given all the wisdom and ideas shared, ultimately I reached the conclusion that we may never know exactly why Seth is in this sleep disturbance phase. Though temporary, there is something endearing about his needing us in that way, like when he was little.
That said, the lack of sleep has been rough for all of us, and with me in peri-menopause, I don't sleep all that well many nights to begin with. So, I got a brainstorm! I decided to bring up his fire truck sleeping bag that he received as a birthday present a couple of years ago. He had yet to use it, and this seemed opportune to break it in and enhance the co-sleeping experience.
I told Seth I was going to put it on the floor in our bedroom, next to my side of the bed, on our cushy carpet, and if he woke up, he could lay down there with one of his stuffed animals and feel safe. I crossed fingers it would work, and it did! The following morning after we launched this effort, I woke up to find Patches, his trusty husky stuffed animal on the sleeping bag, and I could tell Seth had been there.
I was thrilled that at least we have found a solution, if not the cause, and I know that this too shall pass, though there are little pangs in my heart that yearn to hang on to Seth's desire to have us close.