I sense him standing next to the bed before I hear him.
He seems smaller than usual and he’s standing there not wanting to wake me.
“Mum.” He touches my shoulder. “Mum, can you come?” he whispers.
My eyes become accustomed to the dark. The digital clock reads 2.15am. I can tell he’s anxious. I can sense he’s upset.
He just stands there looking awkward. “Sorry mum. I’m really sorry.”
At 11 they still have bad dreams. They still need a comforting hand to hold theirs, tuck them back into bed and tell them all will be OK.
He can’t just drop back off to sleep he says because the minute he closes his eyes the dream comes back.
Will I sit on the bed with him? Will I talk for a bit?
I sit on his bed in the dark as he lies back down and pulls the duvet up under his chin. It’s a bit chilly as I didn’t stop to pick up my dressing gown. I foolishly didn’t go to bed until late, so I’m really tired.
We talk about what we’re doing at the weekend, the holiday we have coming up, the Scouts adventure he’s going on soon and it all helps. I can feel that gradually he is becoming less tense, he chuckles a couple of times, his eyes are smiling. Then he says in a groggy, half-asleep voice “thanks mum, you can go now if you want” and he turns over and settles himself back to sleep.
It’s really quite cold, I am uncomfortable, unlikely to drop back off to sleep quickly and know I’m going to suffer in the morning when the broken sleep catches up on me . . .
BUT boy, BOY I wouldn’t trade these moments in for anything.
Moments when I am the solution. I have the answer. He needs me like he needed me when he was little.
We bond over a nightmare and I’m holding onto these moments with both hands because he’s growing so fast and becoming so independent and I’m needed less and less.
So sitting on the edge of his bed, in the chill of the night, feels like a gift.