As much as we love our little ones, we can probably all admit to feeling a pang of (almost) glee once we’ve got them down for the night.
At last we get some treasured time to ourselves, to have a cup of tea while watching something on Netflix, take a bath or do whatever else it is we’ve been waiting to do all day but can only do once the little people are asleep.
What makes this time even more precious is the fact that it’s limited because – of course – in an hour or two we’ll be ready for bed ourselves.
So doesn’t your heart sink on the occasions you think you’ve finally got the evening to yourself and then you hear a little whimper – which grows to a cry and then a full-on wail and you realise your parent duty’s not quite finished for the day and you’re needed upstairs again? *Sigh*
In a really honest Facebook post, mum Bunmi Latidan has shared the frustrations of this oh-so familiar situation – and we reckon she’s got it down to a tee.
“Night time is my time. While the days are for work, cleaning, and errands, once the last child breathes heavily and steadily in their bed, I come alive in a new way,” she writes.
“Silence descends upon my home and I’m free to do whatever I’d like. It wasn’t until an hour after I’d tucked everyone in when I heard him wail. I froze and listened. Sometimes he does that in his sleep, but no, he was calling me by the only name he knows me by.
“I found him half sitting up, agitated and sweaty. He was whine crying incoherently. I tried all my normal tricks: finding his favourite red bear, taking the sheets off of him so that the air could cool him down, scooping him into my arms like a baby for a hug.
“Life has been hectic and different lately, maybe he feels it? Of course he does.
“Nothing worked and I felt that familiar frustration rising. I didn’t want to be here, in his room, battling with the most difficult version of him. I wanted to lie down, read, watch Netflix, or eat something I shouldn’t. I deserved it.
“I only had an hour or so left before I’d fall prey to the sleep that’s always behind my eyes. And what if he wakes the others? The only thing worse than one awake child past their bedtime is three in the same predicament.
“My first instinct was to fight to protect what’s mine – the sacred night – but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about motherhood it’s that some things can’t be rushed.
“Children feel when you’re impatient and so they deliberately, infuriatingly, slow down. They can sense when you’re in two places at once and will use every weapon in their arsenal to bring you to the present moment.
“I’m proactive. I’m a problem-solver, a brainstormer, and a doer. I like to be in control. But up against a 3-year-old who needs me to sit by his bed in the dark and hold his hand until he falls asleep, I know nothing would change until I let my agenda float up and away.
“I called all of my attention away from the things I wanted to do and into the present of the darkened room with my son in his Paw Patrol pyjamas and cheap plastic Lightning McQueen bed.
“I relaxed into the thin rug on the wood floor and surrendered, not to him or his needs, but to what the moment needed of me. I needed to be there and I knew it.
“There was no escaping this, no convincing, bribing, or threatening my way out of it. The parenting books and experienced grandmas might say different, but I could feel in my bones where I needed to be: here.
“I thought about nothing and felt his soft little hand in mine, first gripping tightly, then relaxing, going slack as his breathing deepened and steadied.
“People pay good money to learn what children teach for free: how to stop fighting against what is and see it. That doesn’t mean you say yes to everything, but to effectively change something, you first have to know it by fully experiencing it no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Sometimes you have to sit.
“He’s finally asleep, for now. With children, “goodnight” can sometimes mean, “see you soon” but I feel calm. Whether he wakes up 8 hours from now or in 30 minutes, I’ll meet him where he is. After all, that’s what coffee is for.”
Bunmi’s post has got more 23,000 reactions on Facebook – and loads of comments from like-minded parents who have experienced this exact same thing – probably way more than once.
One mum admitted: “I get so angry when my kids wake up. It’s only for a few seconds, but the anger is there.
“Sometimes I feel like I will never get to be alone. Ever. But then I hold them, kiss them and rock them. They need me, and want me. It won’t last much longer, so I will remember to cherish this. And buy coffee in bulk.”
Another praised her honesty, saying: “Do you even know what insights you have for millions of mums all over the world?
“Your ability to put these simple, yet so incredibly complex moments of parenting, into BEAUTIFUL AND ELOQUENT words is a gift – thank you! God bless – and I pray you all sleep extra peacefully…”
Yep, Bunmi’s definitely getting the nods of agreement and sympathy for this one.