When I started yoga teachers’ training (YTT) mid-September something shifted in our household. Before, my daughter had been a textbook sleeper. Bedtime routine had been bath, books, a quick song, and a prayer. I would place her in her crib, it was lights out and she would slowly talk herself to sleep. Maybe it’s because my YTT schedule had me out of the home at bed time twice a week when I had barely missed bedtime before that. Maybe it was simply the fact that I went from Stay-at-Home Mom to being out of the home a minimum of four times per week. Whatever it was, her ease of going to bed and staying in bed quickly changed to wanting to be in “Mama and Papa’s bed” and “Mama [to] lie down,” as she went to bed each night. I’ve conceded somewhat; her mattress is now on our floor. And, I do lie down with her each night. While I understand many might view this as a regression or a substantial problem in need of fixing, this shift has actually opened up our young mother-daughter relationship quiet a bit. Suddenly, we’ve been given quiet, focused time in a form we hadn’t previously had in our typical, hectic day.
As she states her request “Mama lie down,” I snuggle in beside her. She softly works her hands over the cat comfort toy she sleeps with each night and invariably pours out her little heart. Sometimes, she discloses a favourite of hers. “Mama, I wuv Fwozen Movie. Do you wuv Fwozen?” she’ll earnestly ask. She’ll recount highlights of her day from a perspective I don’t always anticipate. Every way she opens up melts my heart and has me in awe of the little person she’s growing into. However, the times I feel the most privileged to be there are the times she shares her fears, and worries. For whatever reason, I mistakenly assumed she did not have the ability to put her finger on what is perplexing her at any given time. In this time nestled into one big pillow together, she has disclosed her greatest fears and worries. From an adult perspective, admittedly, they are pretty darn cute. But to her, they are legitimate and are aspects of life that she is unsure she’ll be able to concur. Recently, she has been afraid to do “Number Two” on the potty (she has just started potty training). She disclosed, “It scares me.” Bed time for the next three nights after that involved me recounting an exaggerated story of me having accidents at age two and how Nana and Grandpa told me, “It’s okay to have accidents, it means you’re learning.” When there was a recent upset in our family and my daughter was picking up on the stress, our pillow talk turned into expressions of love for one another and big, strong hugs. After having success with the story of my own potty training mishaps, some of our pillow talk has since been woven into stories where the moral ultimately is “Good listening,” or something else we are working on. Other nights, we simply recount our favourite parts of the day, and I highlight why I’m particularly proud of her.
This protracted bedtime routine lasts about 30 minutes more than our previous one. I have to say that despite it being a little less textbook in its presentation, it has been a beautiful gift to lay beside my beautiful daughter, and gain insight into her developing mind and the depths of her little personality and young soul. I can’t help but feel immensely grateful for this time.
How do you connect with your own family? I would love to hear your stories and insight <3