Single Mom and Bedtime for the Kids

The Next Family

By: Barbara Matousek



Earlier tonight I sat in the large rocker in Sam’s bedroom, the room I used to call “the nursery.”  It is now Sam’s big boy room complete with glow-in-the-dark stars and a dresser full of dinosaur puzzles and a shelf displaying his Lego creations.  An infant tub filled with discarded newborn clothes sat in the corner. The little yellow leg of the Winnie the Pooh onesy that Eva wore when she came home from the hospital dangled from the top of the pile.  Eva still sleeps with me at night, and the crib has been moved next door.  It’s piled full of clothes that no longer fit her, clothes that only a newborn could wear, clothes that I can’t quite let go of yet.  Just in case.

Before Eva was born Sam and I would snuggle on the rocking chair and talk about our day.  We’d think back to how we had squeezed bright colored play-doh through a press and made a giant grey-brown mass or we’d laugh over the way he’d lifted up his shirt and told me he had a baby growing in there too.  “Your baby is pink,” he’d say, “But mine is green.  It’s not ready to come out yet.”

Tonight as I wedged a pillow in between my hip and the arm of the chair so I could nurse the baby Sam sat up in bed and asked if he could climb in with us.  His big green eyes have recently started dominating his face, and most nights during what used to be a carefully orchestrated bedtime, he crinkles his forehead and looks at me sideways and uses words like “snuggle” and “cuddle.”  Eva is four months old, and Sam has tired of having to share bedtime with her, having to lay in the bed while Mommy rocks Baby.  He used to be the one getting rocked.  Before Eva arrived we would read three books, and then turn off the lights and turn on the lullaby music.  I would wrap my arm around his shoulders and we’d quietly take about what we’d done that day and the list of people we love.

Now bedtime is often rushed or broken into pieces.  I nurse Eva until she’s asleep and then lower her into the swing in the living room and hope she stays that way until Sam and I get through our books and our rocking.  Sam and I are both trying to hold on to our old bedtime routine, our end-of-the-day connection.  Most nights Eva wakes and starts screaming while we’re still reading so we improvise.  Tonight Eva would not go to sleep at all so I had held her on my lap while we sat on Sam’s Lightning McQueen sheets and read about tractors and trucks and Sam’s new favorite, a book of opposites.  Up, down.  In, out.  Happy, sad.  Sam does not like nights like tonight, where he lays in bed and watches me hold his baby sister.

“Can I sit with you?” he said.  And the eyes. “I want to snuggle.”


I held Eva as close to vertical as I could while still nursing, and I pulled my leg over to make room.  Sam squeezed in and pulled a blanket up over us.  I pushed the rocker forward and backward.

“No more spots,” Sam said as he folded his arms over the top of the blanket.  The light in the hallway showed his big smile and reflected off the infant tub filled with newborn clothes.  The Winnie the Pooh onesy was the same one Sam had worn during our early days together three years ago, and even after two babies, it looked barely worn.  They grow so fast.

“Nope,” I said.  “No more spots.”



[Photo Credit: jemsweb]

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