You wake up with heavy, groggy eyes and it slowly begins to dawn on you that you are not in your familiar bed. You notice the feminine curtains…the wall decor…and turn to see a snoring beauty at your side. “Crap!” you mouth, “I did it again”. You slither out of bed and do a sneak crawl out the door. It sounds like an intro to a romantic comedy movie right? The whole ‘one night stand’ scene. Except…let’s rewind back…those ‘feminine’ curtains? bubble gum pink….the wall decor? Toddleresque princess….the snoring beauty?…your 2 year old daughter. You’ve been a victim of co-sleeping my friend. It’s a scene right out of a movie alright…except it’s the opening scene of my theoretical pilot comedy series appropriately entitled “A Day in the Life”.
Co-sleeping is basically the sleeping arrangement that involves the family in some form or another. Some cultures do it out of necessity…cramped living spaces…other cultures do it for bonding…some nursing moms lean towards it…still other cultures do it on pure accident. I suppose I knew early on…dozing off in the hospital room…when the nurses expected me to keep getting up and down to place my son in that awkwardly tall heavy plastic bassinet…that I may fall prey to co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping can be dangerous. There is much out there discussing the risks. Obviously, when you put instincts to love and protect out there with inappropriate bedding and sleep-deprived adults…you hope you don’t fall into that pool of statistics. Whether it be S.I.D.S or something more depressingly explainable, sad things do happen to babies. That being said I need to quickly lean on my defense mechanisms of humor before I make somebody cry. Quick! A funny story!
One night, as Joe and I lay there with Dom in the middle…we both mysteriously were awake and suddenly fixated on Dom’s leg. He had slowly raised his leg straight up in a 90 degree angle and kept it there for a second. Without warning…he quickly bent his knee and swiftly kicked Joe right in the nuts…then placed his leg cleanly back with the other. It was…and still is…hilarious. He must have been about a year and a half then…strong enough for it to hurt.
When Dom was very small…he would ball up and lay on my chest and stomach..replacing the bump that he so freshly left. It was my first glimpse of mommy multi-tasking….snuggling while watching T.V. And so it went…different kids…different years…balancing the comfort of a small back pressed up against yours against the kicking feet. Shielding your face from unexpected blows or bad morning breath. Blocking your ears from subtle or less subtle snoring. Cursing the fact that the other bedrooms are on a different floor. Smiling at sleepy angelic faces. Telling yourself you’ll do the SuperNanny method the next night.
Now…maybe you are one of those parents who’ve never had co-sleeping cross your path. You’ve religiously placed your child in their own appropriately sized bedding, ushered them back after bad dreams…never had an issue. Well…let me pat you on the back…and let me keep on patting you to help you warm up your cold heart..is it beating? Oh wait…maybe I’m patting out hot flames…you might be one of those ‘sex every night’ couples…….freaks. Your ‘New Jersey Housewives’ lifestyle is making the rest of us parents of youngsters look bad…stop it!
In all truth…I’m probably a little jealous. No not of your ‘New Jersey Housewife’ debauchery…but maybe of your discipline. It takes a lot of self-discipline to get through a good bedtime routine. But obviously, that good night sleep and 8 hour lapse of physical space is optimal for functioning the next day. For a couple of our kids, they started out so strong…sleeping on their own. Then…whether it be the introduction to fear or the wisdom to realize that Mom and Dad’s bed is WAY more comfortable….you see them…standing there at the side of your bed…or maybe you just feel their eery little presence next to you.
Joe is (and will always be) way better at putting the kids to bed. Truth be told…if I was a single mom I’d have plenty of pillows. We are towards the end of our co-sleeping days, but I do special request him to tuck Maria in. For him…it’s swift…for me? Well…let’s just say that I’m just as tired as Maria when I tuck her in. As for the boys? …They have each other. We will always have a four bedroom house..eventually they will all be used.
Now laying here…it seems like there are countless times that I have been woken up by a child. Somebody’s dream….a break in R.E.M…a foot to a body part. Take tonight ..I fell asleep incredibly early…8:30…but woke up at 12:30 because somebody cried and peed. Fortunately, it was not in my bed. Now, I didn’t say that they keep me up…that sometimes is my own doing, but it’s usually a kid that wakes me up (or Joe moving from the couch to the bed) that does it. Otherwise, it’s just the mere fact that I have the mind of a mom that wakes me up…still a kid to blame.
For some reason, I remember Dr. Phil who said that kids don’t come in throwing the car keys on your nightstand and insist on co-sleeping…it’s the same thinkism that kids shed diapers by kindergarten…all things good and bad…must end. Sleep or co-sleep as you must…may the best night of sleep WIN!