I hear a sound through the darkness. It is quiet at first, then the noise gets a bit louder. I lie still as a rock, not wanting to give away my awake status to the occupant sharing my slumber zone.
If I just stay still and pretend I am in some sort of deep sleep – the game of patience, the game of who breaks first.
I am strong, I will not break.
The murmurs continue, and get loader, turning into a situation which confirms a wide awake occupant next door.
“Where’s Mummy gone?” come the shouts. A learnt phrase that is muttered in any event of stress.
I am beaten.
The request has come for me, and no matter what I say, my husband will use this request to his advantage. “He called for you” he would say, and when you have prayed for years for any ounce of communication, things like a shout for his mum cannot be ignored,
I literally roll out of bed, my pyjama bottoms having crept up to my knees during my previous hours of sleep, and my vest top is in some sort of disarray.
I ignore my appearance. It is 3am, so my fashion sense has no entry into review, as I walk sleep drunk into the room next door.
I look down at my little blonde boy in his bed. He looks up at me, love in his eyes for the person he has wanted.
I look back at him.
I have two choices, firstly to crawl in beside him, in the lower bunk and take my role in the mutual war to claim some bed space. I might get a few hours of sleep, and I am assured that Rhys will get some too. But the bunk is low, and I have been the co-sleeper in this bed for too many nights, I want to try something new. A deviation from the norm!
I want to try a suggestion that my other two kids request on a nightly basis, to which I give into every now and again. It is something that Rhys has done about twice in his life. Something bizarre to him, because bedtime and sleep is done in his bed. Because that is how it is done.
But I am tired. My bed is big and warm. An investment in a super king which was done for these reasons.
So I test the water. I make the suggestion. I hope for a change to the norm.
“Rhys, come sleep in Mummy and Daddy’s bed?” I ask reluctantly.
I suddenly stand in shock and take a breath. Rhys crawls from his bed, and takes my hand. Teddy’s arm held tightly, determined to join Rhys in his new bedtime adventure.
We walk the long ten steps to my bed, each step I hope that this is going to be the solution, but knowing changes to routine can be catastrophic. We walk onward in the dark, my hope to keep the sleepiness at bay.
As we reach my side of the bed, I lift Rhys into his newly found bedtime space for the night. I then climb beside him, and crawl under the covers, Closing my eyes, I hold my breath in the hope Rhys will settle and sleep.
As I lie in silence, a small arm suddenly wraps itself around my body, and all is calm.
A moment so small, but so big for us. My little boy wanting to climb into our bed, and being able to find it so comforting that he goes back to sleep straight away. Not movement or squabble.
It’s the little things that keep us going. The little middle-of-the-night cuddles. The little changes in routine which happen without planning or even knowing.
This kid is doing things his way, even at 3am in the morning!