Sunday, 12 February 2012

Two Bedtimes

It's 8pm - The floor is littered with toys and John is running naked through the house. Wet baby footprints mark the tiled floor and Duplo blocks scatter as he runs. He screams excitedly as he goes and I smile at the sight of his happiness but the act itself is an effort. Exhaustion has wrung me dry and I'm counting the minutes until bedtime.

With barely-controlled exasperation in my voice I call him down onto the towel, wrestle his wriggling little body into a nappy and then bend his limbs into soft pyjamas whilst he screams and chatters from the floor.

Then I'm hauling his bed-ready body onto my hip, his little arms clinging comfortingly around my neck, carrying him slowly up the stairs, gathering teddies from the four corners of the bedroom, lowering him down into his cot, kissing him goodnight, and leaving the room to the sound of his screams, wishing just as I do every single night that it didn't have to end this way.

And then it's done. I'm free. I walk back down the stairs in my bath-soaked trousers, and if I wasn't so exhausted I'd smile with relief as I collapsed onto the sofa amidst a sea of chaos.

It's 11pm and one by one, the machines are shutting down. First the laptops cease their endless whirring, then the TV is silenced and finally the lights are switched off one by one until the whole of the downstairs is asleep.

With a last glance at my watch I climb the stairs, knowing that it's time to go to bed and yet feeling less exhausted than I have done all day. For three lazy hours I've basked in the blissful balm of silence whilst nurturing my soul with good things. I'm refreshed; I'm restored; I miss my baby boy. 

At the top of the stairs I push open John's door, ever so slowly, and tiptoe into the darkness of his room. I peer at the silhouette of his his little bottom in the darkness, and then bend my head close to his to listen to his breathing. Very, very gently, I pull the duvet over his back and tuck it gently around his shoulders.

For a minute I pause, taking in the beauty of his silent, sleeping self and marvelling at the force of my love for him.

And then I go to bed, wishing just a little that he still slept beside me through the night, missing the vitality of his beautiful, simple smile, and hoping, desperately hoping that he will sleep in late in the morning.


  1. I feel exactly the same and follow the same routine every night (except there are no more screams these days yes, plus I go to bed so much later...!). What a lovely description.

  2. I remember the intense exhaustion so well. Bedtime is the worst -- wanting them to go to bed with a nice routine, lovely thoughts, etc...and me being too tired to do more than get them safely in bed and shut the door. But sleep is really what they need and I usually had to read stories, give baths, etc. some other time when I could handle it.