I made what some would consider a parenting mistake of the highest order when I opted to nurse my kids to sleep at night. It wasn’t my original plan, but when our first son developed RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and was hospitalized at just 10 days old, my perspective on lots of things changed. Attaining his birth-weight was the most important consideration in getting him released from the hospital, so for that week I ended up feeding him whenever and for as long as he was willing to eat. That inevitably meant he’d fall asleep nursing.
Even after we left the hospital, I nursed “on demand” and felt I needed to keep him close at night to watch for further breathing difficulties. As time went on, Bug (like lots of babies) seemed only to fall asleep if he was being held. He would cry himself awake rather than cry himself to sleep, so we just stuck with what worked.
When I reached the point where he didn’t nurse any more, he’d become so accustomed to having me close by as he fell asleep, that it became our new routine for me to lay down until he was unconscious and then I’d sneak away to finally have a cup of tea that I could drink while it was still hot and talk to my husband or watch a TV show with real people in it.
When our second came along, we kept with the familiar routine. Boo is a bit more independent in the sleeping department though. He doesn’t wake with a start and a “please stay” if he notices the bed move when I’m getting up to leave. There've been many nights when it's taken a LOT longer than I wanted to get away, but I haven't been able to do the cold turkey "You're a big boy, go to sleep on your own" thing. Not only because I don't want to fight about it, but partly because I know the day is coming where they will expect me to leave so they can go to sleep and I will miss these moments where we both enjoy knowing they feel completely safe and secure.
Recently I decided to start trying to get Boo to go to sleep without really snuggling. I was on the bed next to him as he spun himself in circles until he was encased in the sheets like a larva in a cocoon. I moved away a bit to let him settle on his own. Unexpectedly, he reached for my arm and draped it over himself, and finally gave into sleep.
I thought, what a perfect picture of how we need to be with the Lord. At this point in my life it’s easy for me to fall asleep on my own and wake up on my own and go through my days maybe checking in with Him, but I’ve trained myself to “do it Bryself” as my little Boo says. But I know how much easier I relax, how much sooner I fall asleep, how much deeper my rest and better my dreams when I take a moment to wrap myself in the strong, protective arms of my Heavenly Father and rest in Him.
Tonight, be sure and say your bedtime prayers. Sweet dreams!
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.