One mum's beautiful and honest post about the ongoing pull between meeting our children's needs and fulfilling our own, has resonated with mothers across the globe.
"Night time, is my time," Bunmi Laditan, the voice behind The Honest Toddler, shared on her Facebook page. "While the days are for work, cleaning, and errands, once the last child breathes heavily and steadily in their bed, I come alive in a new way." In the silent house, after her three little ones are fast asleep, Ms Laditan says she's finally free to do whatever she likes.
And yet, as most parents know, this doesn't always happen.
One night last week, an hour after her kids had gone to bed, Ms Laditan heard her three-year-old wail. "Sometimes he does that in his sleep," she writes in her post, "but no, he was calling me by the only name he knows me by."
When she went into his room, Ms Laditan found her pre-schooler, "sitting up, agitated and sweaty." None of her usual methods of comforting him worked – not finding his teddy, giving him cuddles or taking off his sheets to cool him down.
"I felt that familiar frustration rising," she wrote. "I didn't want to be here, in his room, battling with the most difficult version of him. I wanted to lie down, read, watch Netflix, or eat something I shouldn't. I deserved it."
With only an hour left before she too, would need to go to bed, the mother-of-three wrote that her first instinct was to "fight to protect what's mine – the sacred night." And yet, she continued, "What I've learned about motherhood is that some things can't be rushed."
Ms Laditan explained that children can sense when you're in two places at once and will use "every weapon in their arsenal" to pull you back into the present.
In that moment, her little one clad in his Paw Patrol pyjamas, safe in his lighting McQueen bed, Ms Laditan knew she had to let her agenda – her desire for a night in front of Netflix, or curled up with a book –"float up and away."
Relaxing into the rug on the floor, the mum wrote that she surrendered, not to her three-year-old and his needs, but to what the moment needed of her. "I needed to be there and I knew it," she said."There was no escaping, no convincing, bribing or threatening my way out of it."
Noting that while the parenting books and "experienced grandmothers" might have a different point of view, Ms Laditan said, "I could feel in my bones where I needed to be: here."
And so, she stayed by his side, holding her little ones hands until he slowly fell back to sleep.
"He's finally asleep, for now," she wrote to her 400,000 followers. "With children, "goodnight" can sometimes mean, "see you soon" but I feel calm," she said. " Whether he wakes up 8 hours from now or in 30 minutes, I'll meet him where he is. After all, that's what coffee is for."
Ms Laditan's words have since been shared over 3,000 times and have garnered almost 1,000 comments.
"But to what the moment needed of me..." wrote one commenter. "I have never thought like this before. I feel like this could be my new mantra. Thank you, as always."
"More nights than not lately, I open my eyes to the sound of need and pass out in bed providing to those needs," reads the most "liked" comment on the post. "I just keep thinking "what if they weren't 6 or 5 or 2 or 9 months old? What if she's 16 and afraid to call home because she'll think she's annoying me? What if he's 24 and won't call at 2am when his heart is broken and the world feels like it's crashing down?" When it's dark and I need for myself, but they are there reaching for me, I try to remind myself that this is the hard work of building their trust in me. A trust I hope they carry their whole lives. Worth it."
Read the post in full below.
Do you often feel the tug between your needs and those of your kids?