I can hear the small sounds of tiny snore and I know that all is right with the world for the moment. I feel the grasp of small hands and a small arm thrown around my neck that occasionally has a flutter and will pull my hair. The smell of sweat and childhood nestled next to me as the thought passes through Penelope’s wheel that this moment will not last forever. As Penelope turns that around I also pass on the idea that some may not “get” this sleeping arrangement. “She’s just too lazy to make her stay in bed.” “A child needs their own space.” “There aren’t enough boundaries.” But, then the heavy sigh of that peaceful being next to me is heard again, and both Penelope and I decide that none of that matters. The Penguin can stay here as long as she’d like.
Believe me, I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t try to make her sleep in her own bed. So, the “she’s just too lazy to make her stay in bed” thought could apply to me at some point during the last several years of this co-sleeping journey. But, one would have to look at the really large picture, like the Sistine Chapel size picture, to really get the idea of what’s going on. Our family did not go through a divorce, but to a small child the disruption to our family life three years ago defiantly could have some of the same impressions. My husband and I had gotten the Penguin sleeping in her own bed after the crib-to-bed transition and all was going pretty well. Well, if you’ve read any other post, then you may know our world changed, so did the Penguin’s sleeping habits.
The issue of having a child sleep with a parent through the night becomes even more complex in the case of a divorce. Children, especially pre-schoolers and early elementary aged children, are very shaken by a divorce and may become edgy and exhibit somatic complaints. They have lost the presence of one of their parents in their home and they may have great anxiety about losing the other parent, too. They are subject to bad dreams and need a lot of reassurance that things are going to turn out all right. When a parent allows this child to sleep through the night with them, they may believe they are solving the problem by offering a comforting presence. In the long run, the child may pay by becoming overly dependent on the parent and have greater difficulty in adjusting to any kind of change
Yeah, well …….suck it. The Penguin was shaken by the sudden change in schedule with her daddy being gone on the road, hell so was I. Her room is on the other side of a great open space and she has my imagination. Who knows what she could’ve dreamed up was outside of her door? Who cares? In the beginning, I was the lazy mom. I tried making her sleep in her bed. But I was getting up at 3:30 for work. Honestly, between work and the emotional strain the whole change in my husband’s job had on me, I didn’t have the energy to keep taking her back to bed and no I wasn’t strong enough to listen to her cry. So, chastise me all you want. You can point your finger at me later when we are all on Dr. Phil’s couch. I don’t care. Sooner or later it just became routine. A routine the entire family got into. The Penguin realized that when her daddy was home from the road, she did have to sleep in her bed for at least half of the night. She also knows that if she comes to our room too early, she gets sent back to her room. So, there is no problem with adjusting to change or any of that other baloney. Well, there might be, but I can assure you it has nothing to do with her sleeping with me. I did not sleep with my parents, and I do not adjust to change at all, so just chalk that one up to genetics.
I read all of these articles to post and reference. But the main gut of this blog post is the beauty in sleeping with my child every night, especially when it is just the two of us. Right now our family life is somewhat unconventional. Ahem, unconventional does not me unstable or not regimented. We have our routines. She knows what to expect and what to do and how to behave. But come on, she is a free spirit and we eat in bed every night because by the time we get home and do house work and pug work and home work, that’s where dinner is. I make no apologies for it. I get to turn the light off, pull the covers up and smell that child that no one can love like I do. I get to hear her breathe and watch her dream. I get to feel the warmth of her against me when she gets too cold. That’s what I am here for. That’s what I was made for as her mother. We talk about her day, sing songs to one another, read books, face time her daddy, and then we drift to dream land together.
In the not so distant future, this will change. There will be slamming doors. “You are so unfair” yelled across the house. The battle of our wills as preteen looms in the darkness. There will be a “no parents allowed” sign on her door. The same door that she only goes in now to get clean clothes and to sleep in every 10 days. The sweet smell of this child next to me in bed will be exchanged with the overpowering scent of too much fruity lotion and body mist. No songs will be sung, no books to be read. Of course, I can only hope that even the Penguin’s preteen years may be as unconventional as we are now (laughing out loud).
Yes, all of those reasons mentioned above and many more that can’t be put into words. That is why I co-sleep. Because, that innocent picture you read about in the beginning of this post, that will not be forever. I can’t get this back. I can’t slow time. You know that Meredith Grey and I say “the carousel never stops turning”(you must follow my post to get my Grey’s reference). So I will sleep with my Penguin for as long as she will let me. I will let her throw her arms around my neck and hold my hair while I listen to her dreams take flight.