I knew it would happen. Alyce usually calls to her Papa in the night, not me. Of course it used to be, back when she was looking in the dark for some milk. But once I was pregnant a few months with Shira and she had weaned from that last early morning nursing, it was Matt who got up for her in the night (so that I could toss and turn my uncomfortable pregnant body uninterrupted through the night, and then later nurse Shira every four minutes). Even though it's been a year and half since Alyce weaned, she still often wakes a few times through the night, sometimes to pee and other times because she just needs to know that someone is there. At these times she's usually not even awake, but she cries out for Papa, who always rushes into her room for a quick back rub and and a kiss.
Alyce didn't call for Matt the first two nights he was away. The first night she was in bed with me (after a sleepover with her cousin went awry), and the second night she slept silently. But last night around 11:00, when I was finally falling asleep myself, I heard a very sorrowful cry for Papa. This time it was me rushing in, and for the first time ever I found crawling into bed with her. She was quite upset, though still very sleepy. Maybe it was a bad dream? Maybe she just missed her Papa. Whatever it was, when I asked if she wanted me to snuggle with her she quickly nodded her head and made room for me next to her. I've mentioned before how I often miss my first nursling who is now far to busy to sit close with her Mama, and now I understand why so many parents find themselves sleeping with their little ones at night.
But back in reality-world, where I'm not only sliding into bed with Alyce, but up with Shira four times through the night, and also being summoned later in the night by Alyce to help her find her water cup, I know I'll need to keep up with a better overnight routine in order to get some sleep for myself. But I've learned many times over since becoming a parent, sometimes you just need to do whatever it takes to get sleep in the moment. And last night I found that moment in bed with a three year old who missed her Papa.