Nighttime parenting: when your kid chooses you for the night shift
I pretend I don’t hear it.
“Mummmyyy! Mummy. Mummy. Mummyyyyy!”
I press my pillow over my head.
It’s 2am and my daughter is awake. My husband rolls over and closes his eyes. There’s no question which of us is getting up.
It isn’t because he’s a dick. He’s not. But I’m the one she asked for. If he goes into her room, she’ll only look at him and say, “I want Mummy” over and over again, at an increasing volume, until I go in there.
Because I’m the nighttime parent.
I assume she got used to seeing me at stupid o’clock during our breastfeeding days, when I often saw each and every hour come and go as she demanded constant boob time. She hasn’t done night feeds in well over a year and we stopped breastfeeding over six months ago, but the damage was done. The association made.
She had chosen me.
I’m the one who gets to attempt to co-sleeping with her on difficult nights, despite knowing that no sleeping will actually happen. She tosses. I turn. She kicks me in the stomach. I try to switch sides. She grabs my hair and asks me for raisins. I pretend I don’t hear her. She goes quiet. I decide I’m too hot and attempt to take off my socks. She rouses and decides she wants to use my neck as a pillow. I shift her off gently. She crawls around the bed for 10 minutes before demanding milk.
I give up and put her back in her own bed. She cries and screams until I agree to sleep in her room with her. On the floor. On a very thin yoga mat. It’s only slightly worse than sharing a bed with someone who treats sleeping like a contact sport.
I’m not only the nighttime parent. I’m also the ‘get me some milk’ parent, the ‘pick me up’ parent, and the ‘change my nappy’ parent. I’m her number one choice for all things poo-related.
“MUMMY DOES IT!” she yells when my husband attempts to change her.
I step in to take over.
“It’s a big one!” she says.
But I’m also the ‘kiss it and make it better’ parent and the ‘I need a cuddle’ parent. When my daughter is scared or sick, I’m the one she calls to for comfort. Sometimes there’s nothing I can do but give her a hug. And sometimes that’s enough.
I take her in my arms and tell her that I’m going to hug away all the sad. She can give it to me and I’ll carry it for her. It feels good to be able to do that.
I mean, I wish I didn’t have to do it at 2am. But, you know, parenthood. You don’t get to choose your hours.