I was getting Pumpkin down last night, and I wanted to get up and go potty. I thought maybe she was sleepy enough that I could leave her to try to finish going to sleep on her own. I slid out of her bed, and gently extricated her fingers from my hair. She looked up at me sleepily, and patted the space on her pillow that I'd just left.
Usually, when I try to get up too early, she commands me to "lay back down!" But last night, she just said "Mommy, stay."
I leaned in and kissed her, and said I had to go potty, but that I'd come right back.
And I did come right back. I settled back into her bed, with my back to her (as she prefers- better access to my hair). I felt her little knees nestle into the small of my back, listened to her breathing get more regular, and waited for her hands to stop twirling my hair.
Then I slid out of bed again, and went off to get ready to go to bed myself.
I suspect that I'll regret not breaking Pumpkin of her bedtime Mommy habit before the new baby arrives. There will probably be some painful nights, when I have to be with the baby and Pumpkin wants me to snuggle her to sleep. But the 20-30 minutes it takes for her to fall asleep with her hand twined in my hair (the other hand is usually wrapped around the tail of her stuffed zebra) seems like so little time, really. Most mornings, she waves me bye-bye cheerfully. I occasionally have to beg for a good-bye hug and kiss. She has even started playing more independently after work, letting me crash on the sofa and rest. She seems more and more like a little girl and less and less like the "big girl toddler" she calls herself every day.
So I stay. She understands so much these days, which gives me hope that maybe we'll be able to explain the need to change the routine when it becomes necessary to do so. (This, of course, assumes that we finally come up with an explanation for our desire to change her bedtime routine that does not blame the new baby and thereby sow the seeds of sibling conflict.) I may miss this bedtime ritual more than she does, whenever we are finally forced to break it. I hope so.