My son is eight years old. This fall he will be a third grader for those of you keeping track. My aging body woke me up in the wee hours of the morning with a variety of minor ailments that conspired to keep me awake. Usually when this happens I feel irritated and angry. Today was different. I contemplated the sleeping child beside me.
Alex has gone through a number of changes in the last year, in the last months even. He no longer snuggles up to me during the day. You see, he’s far too busy living his own life. Whether he’s playing video games at home or disappearing into a friend’s back yard for hours on end, he no longer needs my body as security the way that he used to.
Yesterday I hardly laid eyes on him. We spent the morning in separate rooms of the house. Then we went to a birthday party where he played outside while I chatted with the other moms inside of the house. We then went to a park. He disappeared to the far edges of the property with his friends. They explored wooded paths and created their own adventures. He came close only long enough to guzzle some water and complain about a situation before he was back at the business of play.
So this morning, as he snuggled close in the cool morning air, I wondered how many more nights he’ll need to sleep at my side. A couple of months ago he shocked me by choosing to sleep over both a friend’s home and his grandparents’ home without me. A year ago this would only happen if I made him do it.
He has always been on his own timeline with his development. He walked after he turned one. He finished potty training at age six. Reading finally became somewhat comfortable at age eight. Soon, he won’t want to sleep close to me. He’ll see the advantage of that bedroom he’s had since birth. So when sleep eludes me, I will savor the sleepy snuggles while I still can. There will be time for me to feel cranky about it later.