“Let’s fall asleep”, whispers my four-year-old as he wraps his little arms around my neck. I feel the familiar sensation of the rise and fall of his chest pressing against mine as his body feels heavier and his breaths longer.

Minutes earlier he’d roused from his slumber. His ‘tummy was hungry’ so a midnight snack and a bedside picnic were in order.

As we turn out the light, he nuzzles into me, just like he has thousands of times before. My heart feels full as I’m cocooned with my young soulmate in our now perfectly messy bed.

So often during daylight hours, I find it challenging to stay in the moment, to just be without doing. But, tonight, in these dreamlike hours, all I want is to hit pause and stay here. A moment of gratitude has me delaying sleep as I know these precious moments with my son, who is growing oh-too-fast are numbered.

Surprisingly, quiet black stillness has become a familiar friend.

My fears and expectations about night time parenting have been completely shattered as I have found strength and solace in dark silence. As impossibly exhausting as motherhood is I wouldn’t miss a single wakeful moment. Because, it is also very simple; he needs me. His need for comfort is valid. No matter what our desensitized culture says, this is normal.

The wakefulness of babyhood and the unpredictability of toddler sleep etched deep and beautiful memories on my soul; borne from the kind of experiences that change a person, reaching into a spiritual abyss that I rarely see.

It was in those dark moments that I strengthened my new maternal muscles, helping me find a resilience I never thought possible. The depth of these experiences have kept me by my son’s side as we’ve shared sleep every single night for the last four years.

Each time he’s fallen asleep I’ve been there; nursing, holding or laying beside him. Yet, everyone told me not to.

They said I needed to be tough or I’d create bad habits.

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