Sleeping Single in Her Full-Size Bed
By: Annie Eskeldson
A common problem parents endure while raising energetic children on the spectrum is the lack of sleep. Mysteriously our little angels only need a wee bit of shut-eye, while we zombies parents are desperate for just one good night.
I'm elated that Ashi has started going to bed all by herself. Now, before you get jealous, please know that I have spent over 6 years going to bed with her at night, every night, without fail.
Rather than risk complications of meds or battle rigid night-time routine and clocks, I decided to just go to bed with her. Simple, right? I became her personal teddy bear with a heartbeat.
All those years ago, it took forever for her to nod off and I'd dare baaarely move to sneak out! Most mornings the cricks in my neck let me know that once again I had slept all night with her.
But, over the years, she drifted to sleep faster and faster and finally, at age 9, she's been telling me she's tired and ready for bed, even if I can't join her. I almost have to pinch myself to make sure it's real!
We could've let those 6 years be a time of difficulty, but why miss out on an opportunity? Our nightly sleepovers have helped with: overcoming apraxia, learning how to read and spell, learning to play pretend, making up games, and telling time. We've went from learning to count, to practicing addition and subtraction, to practicing multiplication and division all in the dark. (And may I say that learning how to do addition/subtraction with 3 and 4 digits, and renaming, in the dark is a fabulous mental exercise.) We've learned about God and the Bible, and prayed together for so many people. We've learned to talk about our day, to tell each other we're sorry and ask for forgiveness. Ashi has learned through role play, conquered fears and also coped with death. It's been our time to love, belly-laugh, foster a meaningful relationship, talk about painful things, and answer questions only a child who trusts their parent asks.
Today, Ashi would be 9 whether or not I helped her through those tough years. And, true, she might be sleeping by herself now whether or not I had been there. But instead of 6 years of strife, she has 6 years of joyful memories and I believe she has come face to face with what the true love of a Mommy looks like.
And, so have I. By giving up my own 'private time', I've gained the whole world. And Ashi's new achievement is much more touching after being a part of the solution.
It's also very timely, because, like clockwork, my 3 year old is now needing me to tend to his sleep issues. Here we go again. A Mommy's work is never done!
***Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of young autistic children. She has provided all of her children's therapy and homeschools. You can check out her books at Ashi's Gift Website and on Amazon. She will be speaking at the Ultimate Online Home-school Expo in March. Friend her on Facebook to find out more! http://www.ashisgift.blogspot.com/