I made a rod for my own back when I fed you and cuddled you to sleep. First as a baby, breastfeeding, singing our song, comforting, rocking and holding your little hand until you went to sleep. Eating dinners one-handed as I fed you, because you wouldn’t part from me even for a minute.
I made a rod for my own back as you grew beyond the newborn days. Sometimes getting you to go to bed took hours. I wondered what I was doing wrong, why my baby wouldn’t lie down in this mythical sleepy but awake state, and gently drop off. As I sang our song, I wondered when this feeding, crying, puking and rocking would end, and I could put you to bed in your cot fast asleep, and go and eat my now-cold dinner.
I made a rod for my own back as I lay on your bedroom floor, 8 months pregnant, holding your little hand and singing our song until you went to sleep. I wished the hours away, sometimes boiling with frustration when you would appear to be asleep then pop up, wide awake as I crawled out of the room – then slunk back in again for another hour of shushing and singing and hand-holding, my evening slipping away.
I made a rod for my own back as I sat on the toy-box, breastfeeding your newborn sister, my arm twisted uncomfortably behind my back, holding your little hand as I sang our song and shushed whilst I wondered how on earth I was going to get two children to go to sleep.
I made a rod for my own back as I co-slept with the baby, creeping out to comfort you in the middle of the night because only mummy would do. Then creeping back and waking the baby as well.
I made a rod for my own back as I continued breastfeeding the youngest through toddlerhood, unsure of how else to get her to sleep. Curled up together on the bottom bunk, singing our song and sometimes holding that little hand which reached down from the top bunk.
But soon, it will end.
Every night I still cuddle and sing our song and breastfeed until the youngest is asleep. But these days it takes five minutes, and the little hand on the top bunk rarely reaches down – he’s happy to go to sleep without me in the room. It was only last night as I had the first difficult bedtime in a long while that I realised we’d made it; usually bedtime isn’t frustrating, or hard or too time-consuming. Dinners are eaten still-hot, and evenings are no longer missed.
One day soon, my children won’t want me to sing our song, the youngest won’t want to breastfeed, or cuddle and the little hands won’t need holding. All those rods I made for my own back were worth it, and I wouldn’t change them for anything.