Chaucer has attention deficit disorder. It is fairly severe. After I learned more about it, he perfectly fits the standard definition, a classic case. His body simply can’t be still.
Since he was able to get out of his crib, he moves through the night. I would say he doesn’t wake up, but, now that he is almost 9, he can tell you what time he moved from his bed. He has found different spots over the years - in the hallway, on the couch, in our doorway. But his most visited spot is on the floor next to me. He curls up in a little pile of blankets, and sleeps. My husband used to fight this, but it was a battle I made him give up, because he was fighting not only Chaucer, but me.
My son has never been a snuggler, which has led to hours of me wondering where I went wrong. Now, cerebrally, I understand that he can’t be still, his body feels trapped. He gets anxious. His building of his little nest and need to be close to me fed me as much as it fed him. He wanted to just be close. To know that I was close, and I needed to know he needed me as his mother. Often he is gone before morning, without my ever being aware he was there. When I wake, I know. I can smell him, feel him, but he is gone, like a phantom. In the winter, he moves around 5:30 or 6 into the living room where he turns on the gas fireplace and curls on the floor and dozes. In the summer, he often goes outside. This summer, his choice spot was in front of the tomatoes he was growing.
Steve travels many nights, and I often find my room littered with kids or their trails. There may be one or two on the floor, or one or two in my bed. Or a blanket or bear or doll left behind that sells out my kids. This is a terrible habit they have, and I know I should do more to stop it. The girls don’t do it when my husband is in town, because he gets grumpy about it. Chaucer, however faithfully, usually visits for a few hours even when Steve is in town.
Somewhere in the deep of the night last night, there was a body snuggling, maybe. It felt like an an assertive, if not aggressive snuggle. It was as if Chaucer were trying to literally crawl back into my womb. His head was in my neck, and his knees burrowed into my stomach, and he grabbed my arm to wrap around his body. He wasn’t crying or talking, he never does. Truth be told, I am not a cuddler when I am sleeping either. In my half dream, barely alert state, I fell back into a full sleep.
Around six, my older daughter comes in our room to take a shower. (Yes, our kids have their own shower, and there is a third shower in our house. And another half bath with a sink. But they all shower and bathe and brush teeth in our bathroom.) I stir and something feels weird. Was I dreaming I was pregnant? I feel pregnant. Then I realize my son is still not only in bed with me, but still locked into his position next to me, like a baby kangaroo in a pouch.
I am awake enough to enjoy it, relish it really. I have to go to the bathroom so bad, but I don’t want to lose this. I want to rub his head, rub my hands all over his little body, kiss him, and eat him really. But I don’t move. He rolls over onto his back and stretches out. Only his left arm and left leg are touching me now. I really have to go to the bathroom, but I know this is borrowed time. I let myself rub his head, and maybe a leg, and an arm. Just like that, he is tossing and moving, a prisoner to the lack of hormone connections in his brain. He somehow flips into a position where his head is on the other side of the bed, but both of his feet are on my stomach, and he stills again.
His little feet move with a twitch or two, just as they did when I was pregnant. But they are big feet, warm feet. It’s like a fire in bed, warming my heart. I know he needs me, loves me. He has never been expressive. He was never the little mama’s boy, never the three year old that wrote notes saying I love you. He did however used to say that he was going to marry Mommy, so I hold on to that.
I asked why he was there, even though I know the answer. It has happened before. “I had a bad dream.”
“What was it?”
“I don’t remember now.”
Sometimes he remembers, sometimes he doesn’t. Because of his over activity, people always assume he is tough and not needy. Even I do this sometimes. He has always had the worst dreams, or needed the most comfort. Movies have always scared him. Even now, one of those Christmas movies - is it Rudolph? has a scary snow monster that prevents him from watching it.
I love the kids in my bed and in our room. I know more than ever now that it will not last. Soon enough, the little nest by my bed will stay empty forever. Already, there are nights when it is. But I think thats more getting ready for Santa.
Last night, a friend posted a picture of her daughter who is fifteen. She looked.... well, grown. My daughter is 11 1/2. Less than 4 years from that. My son will be nine in January. How much longer do I have him coming to me in the night? Each time, I wonder if it was the last. I am glad I think like this, but I am also glad I don’t know the answer. The answers to hard questions.. like when was the last time I held them on my hip? or the last time I nursed? or when will be the last time I see their little naked bodies? Or the last time they say “lellow” for yellow or “becktast” for breakfast?
I don’t think I could bear to know these answers.
Thank God I am learning that they will always need me. Of course, it will look different as they grow older. May God give me the grace to embrace their changes and grow in my motherhood.
And, naughtily, I pray for a few more bad dreams.