on bedtime and becoming moot

Bedtime with Eddie has never been anything remotely what I would consider falling under the definition of “easy”.

I’ve lamented this all over this blog.

When he was a colicky baby, Cort and I would say to each other, “It can’t last forever, right?” And it didn’t. But bedtime didn’t get easier.

When he was sobby and clingy and needed to rock for over an HOUR at bedtime we would argue about whose “turn” it was and how it wouldn’t last forever and that when he was older we wouldn’t put up with this “shit”.

When he moved to a Big Boy Bed and got up one kazillion times we would rub our faces and pull our hair and whine about whose turn it was to bring him down to bed.  Whoever wasn’t on the verge of punching a wall “won”.

This week Cort came upstairs after an hour with Eddie.  Eddie came upstairs for some ridiculous reason (booger on his finger? fuzzy on his floor?  Llama Llama giving him the stink eye? Who knows), and Cort burst out, “THIS IS NOT HOW IT SHOULD BE!  BEDTIME ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS!”

Eddie’s thing lately is that he wants us to “lay by me a yiddle bit.”  But what that really means is just lay here and I will talk and goof around until you fall asleep in my bed. Then I will fall asleep and daddy will have to come get you at 10pm because it’s time for you to go to bed.

It’s stalling.

Sort of.

Eddie is three and a half.  He knows what is expected at bedtime.

When it’s nap time, he will say, “Mom. Naptime.” And we will go down, he will crawl into bed, I will tuck him in and kiss him and that is that.  He knows how to go to sleep.

Bedtime is…different for him.

I don’t really know why, but I think it has to do with the dark and his mind working and how he processes everything.

That boy thinks a LOT.

Anyway, when Cort found the end of his rope, I realized that if I could? I would crawl into bed with Eddie every night and fall asleep next to  him until my bedtime.

Tonight, we read two books and then talked about those two books.

Then he had to poop (which is his regular time as of late. He’s like a little old man), but when he came back, he asked me (again) when we could have another baby in our family. (not for a LONG time, little man).

That brought him to asking how God puts babies in a mommy’s tummy anyway, and how does he pick if it’s a boy or a girl? And maybe we should leave God a note on the wall with a cookie and asking him for a baby sister. Also? God doesn’t have a beard because beard’s are weird and God is not weird.

He didn’t stop there. Nope. Then he began questioning why God and Jesus had to live in a barn (the Christmas story is still fresh in his mind) and sleep on hay and was there baby food there for Jesus? And did he have baby toys? Because goats are not good toys.

Around 9pm (an hour after we started this bedtime adventure), he asked if he could read books.  I said sure, and I kissed him and turned his light on and said goodnight.

He was good.  Until he found a Llama Llama book.  He loves these books.  But not having them live in his room.  He thinks Llama Llama is giving him stink eye. So he brought it up to me.

We had some more set-backs tonight due to a sore knee (he fell on some ice today) and some “I don’t like the dark or the shadows,” but after some dad time, he is all set.

I really do like cuddling him until we both fall asleep.

Because really? Like Cortney and I always say (usually in exasperation), “it won’t last forever.”

Someday I won’t be able to lie there with him…and he won’t want me to.

I won’t be able to feel his feet start to rub together and hear his breathing slow.

He won’t turn into me while letting his hand go limp, releasing Lamby onto the pillow next to him.

My presence won’t be needed to comfort him in the darkness and shadows.

He’s getting so big, that these little boy moments wash over me suddenly and remind me of how time keeps on trucking…and takes the babies and the little boys and turns them into teenagers and men.

Teenagers and men who don’t need their mommies to snuggle them and talk out their worries and their fears.

Because by snuggling him and reassuring him now, I am raising him to be a man who is fearless and confident.

I am working to make myself unnecessary.

It is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

But that is motherhood, right? In order to be a success, you have to become moot.

So instead of complaining and whining about how my boy needs me at night, I am going to let him need me…and be Ok with it.  Because I am his mom and he is three and it is my job–right now–to be needed.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Ok. This is pretty funny. I loved the things he said to you!

    My kid stalls like crazy at bedtime too. He does the “Mommy. I NEEEED you!”. And when I say “Why do you need me?” he responds: “Because I LOOOOOVE you.” and then there is the “Stay with me Mommy” – but like your situation, I know staying in there just means he will jump all over me and not stay in bed.

    I hate when bedtime takes forever, but I love hearing that “I need you. I love you.”

    • Eddie consistently tells me all the things he thinks. It’s so funny…but also such a privilege. I hope he never stops. well, ok, I don’t need him to tell me EVERYTHING, I guess 🙂

  2. this is gorgeously written and so very perfect. thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t last forever.

  3. All of this. Awesome.

    (Also? What is the deal with the random questions?!? They’re hilarious and annoying all at the same time!)

  4. I love when you tell us about your conversations with Eddie. He is so wise. I think he knows too, that the time he has cuddling with Mommy and Daddy won’t last forever, so by god, he will drag it out and love it. Smart little guy.

    I am having bedtime woes with the baby. But I keep reminding myself that he is not little forever, and if he wants to play at 11.30, okay, let’s play. (though I am TIRED)

    • that’s it. he IS so wise. where does he get that?

      It’s so much harder to remember my own advice when I’ve worked for 10 hours and had 90 minutes of commute time…but I hope I will.

  5. “I am working to make myself unnecessary.
    It is both beautiful and heartbreaking.”

    It may be the waking up at 5 AM talking, but that made me teary.

    Jonas (who is also three and a half) is a terrible bedtime kid, too. Needs bouncing, or cuddling, and even then, there are no guarantees. And did I mention that he gave up on napping, too? And still doesn’t sleep in his own bed? (I’ve tried. It just makes things worse and I need to get SOME sleep)

    But you are so right. There will come a time when he won’t need me. And I’ll miss the snuggles.

    On a morning when I’m a bit queasy from lack of sleep, I needed to read this.

    • aw. I’m glad I could be there just when you needed it. I only hope I remember my own words next week when I am back to working 10+ hours a day, commuting 90+ minutes a day, and just want him to go to bed!

  6. My husband and my oldest (turning 4 next week) have similar problems when it comes to going to bed at a dictated time. There is always a radio on in my daughter’s room, and often she’s allowed to take my iPod Touch to bed with her. Much like my husband, the noise in her head just WILL NOT let her sleep and so she must distract herself with something else, and preferably something familiar. There are movies that I can recite line by line because they play so often so my husband can drift off to sleep without 18 interruptions. My daughter can recite entire episodes of DisneyJr shows for this same reason. Do I LIKE that she often takes the iPod to bed, increasing her screen time? No. But there are so many days where she, or I, or both of us, NEED her to go to bed “on time” and not cling to each other. To not spend the hour tossing and turning in her bed, trying to be comfortable. To get ALL of our rejuvenation time, whether it’s sleep (for either of us) or reading or cleaning or crafting(for me).

  7. I am never one to recommend books on parenting, but this one changed things for us (and 5 other friends’ families) so drastically that whenever anyone has bedtime issues, I share the title. “Good night, Sleep Tight”. We coslept with each of our kids and our son transitioned after a week to falling asleep on his own and just this week, daughter (a fresh 2) just started sleeping in her own bed. It has made such a difference for bedtime not to be such a bear and my husband and I feel like throwing a party every night after talk time, stories, hugs and kisses are shared.

    Your little man is so lucky to have parents who love him and care for him like you do. Your appreciation of what this phase of his life offers you is so palpable through your words.

  8. Love this and it’s so true. Every day we let go of a little more in the hopes that one day they are independent enough to NOT need us. So heartbreaking, though. Our kids only stall if we start bedtime too late. Somehow then they become master stallers.

  9. Your Eddie sounds just like my Ainsley. Bedtime has been a struggle for us since the day she was born. We’ve tried everything…and I’m not exaggerating. But I agree with you. I always tell myself “It won’t last forever” and “One day she’ll be 14 and she’ll hate me.”

    I will say this…

    Over the summer we ended up moving her mattress into our bedroom because she could sleep on her own that way. She was scared of her room. Then she started Kindergarten. Two days in and she asked to move back. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. This was so very unlike her.

    Since then, she’s gone to bed on her own in her room. She still has fears and still wants cuddle time, but somehow, she figured it out all on her own without any proding, pushing, or screaming from us.

    Kids are funny like that.

  10. I think this is a great perspective. I absolutely relate with my 3.5 year old. She comes down the stairs after we put her to bed with a smug smile on her face, always needing this or not wanting that. I have a hard time being patient, because it will go on and on and on. But, my almost two year old? I will snuggle with him, because, well….he’s the baby and he really is growing up too fast. I’m not sure why I think this way, because come on…they’re ALL growing up too fast! But I’m seriously sleep deprived and probably don’t think straight most of the time. 🙂

    • I think watching Charlie go through his first year so fast has made Eddie seem SO big to me and I am desperately trying to cling to that which is little. If that makes sense.

  11. Wait, your kid – the child who shares your genetic material, and is around you a whole lot, thinks? A lot?

    My mind is blown :-p

    Both of my kids fall asleep in our bed — I can try to spend an hour or two to get them to fall asleep in their own beds, but that’s only sometimes successful, and then I want to punch a wall . . . and this is just . . . easier.

    Besides, it won’t last forever.

    • I like your sassy pants.

      Also, I like that you share my philosophy…just go with it since it won’t last. I mean, there are going to be way worse phases than needing a cuddle to sleep.

  12. You’re right. It won’t last forever, but it lasts a really loooooong time. I have 3 eddies right now, and easily see little faces out of bed every night until after 10pm. I think they take shifts to wear me down, seriously. And every night, at least one of them fall asleep in our bed, only to be moved sometime before midnight.

    Purely speculating, have you ever thought that it’s just eddies weekday schedule that dictates this behavior? Maybe because the routine is to be away from you and Cort during the day, he knows that the evenings are his time to get his little love tank filled, and he doesn’t want the time with you guys to end? So he stalls, and refuses to let the sleep start….

    I felt that was somewhat the case for Piper when I was working outside of the house. It isn’t bad that this is the routine, you just really need to be intentional about how time is spent after dinner, making sure that little love tank gets refilled. (this is my personal experience, hope I didn’t imply anything or offend, not my intention AT ALL)

    And I could be totally off base. I now work from home and apparently still have needy kids that attempt to stay up way too late EVERY DANG NIGHT. Man, kids are weird.

    • I did wonder that, actually. But he’s been home with me nonstop for 2 weeks and he still does it. And he did it all summer. So I am going with “kids are weird”.

      But I do know he wants to do whatever we are doing and there isn’t enough time in his day for all the things he wants to do. So I think some of that is his resistance to bedtime too. He is just not finished being awake.

  13. We had horrid bedtime battles until we stopped napping the kids. We slowly weaned down naptime and then by bedtime came around the kids were so tired that they just fell asleep.

    Just my 2cents, take it for what it’s worth. 🙂

    • I tried to wean him from naps. He just fell asleep anyway and then being overtired makes bedtime even worse…complete with meltdowns. He takes a 90 minute nap and wakes up at 7:50am on the nut every morning when left to wake on his own. Bedtime doesn’t usually have meltdowns, just wanting us to lay by him and “talk”. Usually he will just quietly stop and go to sleep. Sometimes I wonder if it will help when Charlie gets big and shares his room. Eddie can’t stop talking about how great that will be. It’s so cute.

  14. Trust me as a mom to 3 boys there will come a time there are things you won’t want to know. I miss this time as well. Mine seem to be becoming men far too soon with my baby being 13. But he is a hugger. He will come out of nowhere and wrap his long skinny arms around you and squeeze you till you nearly lose your breath. As quick as he comes in he is gone.. I hope he never outgrows that.

  15. With us, it’s totally me. That boy will tell me in a heartbeat, “Night, Mommy. You go in your bed now, okay?” It’s me who will go in to check on him when he hasn’t called, me who will offer one more book, me who ASKS to lay with him. Sometimes he says no. I figure that yeah, there’ll be a time when he won’t say yes at all, so until then…another book?

    Z is starting to not be a napper (um, IIIIIII am a napper so I’ma need him to hold on a bit longer. At least lie quietly and watch tv or something while mommy has an hour of eyes closed time.) I don’t know how that’ll affect his sleeping at night. Right now he goes to bed too late so our struggle is mornings (and by our I mean daddy’s b/c I’m gone to work by the time he gets up.) Keep on doing what you’re doing/what’s working for y’all.

  16. That was really sweet – I need to remember this when I’m rushing to get my 5 year old in bed so I can finally have some quiet haha

  17. Ugh. the bedtime stall SUCKS ass!! We don;t deal with this every night, but when we do, it is so frustrating. So many requests, questions, fears, silly commentary. It’s enough to drive you bonkers and then some nights you just have to laugh and let them stay up.

  18. Charlotte Anne says

    I too had an over active mind at bedtime, and still do to be honest! My parents always said I could be talking one minute and asleep the next. My mama would watch I Love Lucy reruns with me until I fell asleep. I am now 27 and she passed away 1/1/12, so a little over a year ago. I treasure those memories. It may be only a short time but like you said treasure it and know it will leave amazing memories for your kids,