Sometimes the process of putting Elijah to bed takes forever. He fights and fights and fights sleep by any available means. Favourites are pinching me, kicking the rocking chair and throwing a tantrum. Or alternately he just lies in my arms, staring at me for ages, and when he finally starts falling asleep and I put him down, he opens his eyes wide, grins, flips over and climbs the side of the cot as if to say, "Tricked you, Mummy! It's really play time." So the process starts again.
Often it's an incredibly short process: he falls asleep feeding, I put him down, he looks up at me, then rolls over, closes his eyes and drifts off.
Tonight was different.
Tonight, he finished feeding and snuggled up to me for cuddles. He started drifting. I put him to bed. He opened his eyes, but he didn't fight sleep. He looked as though he wanted to go to sleep and just lay in bed, calmly, but with eyes wide open. He didn't object when I stroked his forehead. He wanted to go to sleep but something wasn't right.
After a while, he looked up at me. He started to climb the side of the cot, but this wasn't a frantic, "let's play so I can't fall asleep" action. No, this was Elijah asking for a cuddle.
So I took him back to the rocking chair and we snuggled up again. And within a minute, he was drifting.
I put him in bed. He looked up at me and smiled, then rolled over and went to sleep. I know he was thanking me for the extra cuddle.
It was a welcome change to the bedtime routine.