There’s a serious parenting problem we, as a society, have to talk about. It’s not about breastfeeding or screen time or any of that. I’m talking about bed-sharing. You see, bed-sharing tends to overstay its welcome. It can shorten your nights, influence your partnerships, and force you to learn to sleep on a small corner of a bed for years on end. I want to stop, but I can't, and that's just one of the many confessions of a bed-sharing addict I need to get off my chest. Guys, it's time to get real.
OK, fine. Maybe I’m being a little facetious. Bed-sharing addiction is not exactly a real thing (I think). But raise your hand if you’re a mom who has tried to kick her kid out of bed, more than once, and has been devastatingly unsuccessful. Then again, are you really being "unsuccessful"? Or is this just your sneaky way of allowing yourself just a few more nights of unconditional snuggles? I think we both know the answer to that question, dear reader. Yeah, you're picking up what I'm putting down.
Honestly, I thought I was all done with bed-sharing over a year ago, when my son started preferring his crib again. And I thought I was finally done with it again when I moved my family across the country and my son had a new room of his own. But here I am, with a 3.5 year old who still wakes up in the middle of the night to be close to mommy. I’d like to say that I always gently take him back to his room (or better still, that his father does), but usually I just wake up and find him there. It totally feeds my addiction and most of the time, I don’t really care. Why? Well, let’s count the reasons:
This is totally selfish, I'm sure, but hear me out. My son is always nice and warm and toasty. And sure, my husband is too, but my husband is not a fan of my cold hands in his shirt. My kid, on the other hand, totally doesn't mind. Sometimes he even thinks it’s funny.
In other words, on super cold nights, my bed-sharing son is way better than a hot water bottle.
We started bed-sharing when my then-baby would refuse to sleep in his crib. He’d shriek like a banshee until we took him out. When I discovered letting him sleep in my bed made him stop, I was down for it.
So when I don’t feel like sticking to the bedtime routine of reading 20,498,309 books and then putting on the night light and soft music and sitting by my kid until he finally falls asleep (which eats into all of my alone time), I just let him sleep in my bed. He knocks out faster and I can scroll social media while it happens.
I wish I could say that I’m not a nervous mother anymore. But after losing my first baby to prematurity, and nearly losing my son in the first couple months of his life, I still have some residual post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I can mostly put it out of my mind these days, save for when my son is sick (or borderline sick). Co-sleeping comes back in full force those times, as much as I might want to finally stop.
And believe me, when I get kicked hard in the face or abdomen, I seriously want to throw in the towel.
Marriage is not always sunshine and rainbows. Some days, it’s hard work. And on those days, when my husband is feeling less than snuggly, I have my kid to snuggle with. Sure, I know my son will eventually get older and I’ll have to cuddle with something else on those days, but when that day comes I'll just get a dog.
For now, though, my son is my preferred source of endless snuggles.
There's on denying it: my kid is getting older. He’s not as needy as he once was, and he knows how to speak his mind. So during the day, when he’s playing and maybe all mom wants it to snuggle him while watching Sesame Street, he’s not about it. “Give me a bubble!” he might say, and I, dejected, snuggle with a stuffed bear instead.
But at night, and especially when it's time to go to bed, my kid is all about snuggles and kisses and letting me smell his head. So, you know, I take what I can get.
My son is high energy these days, and as wild as wild can be. That's why it's still so incredibly soothing to watch him sleep. Having him in the room, or bed, with me gives me a front row seat to the sweetest show in town that no one but me could possibly appreciate.
You know exactly what I mean by "excuse," too. My husband knows that when I time, effort, and energy into getting our kid to sleep in his own bed, he may be getting lucky.
But I’m a mom and I work and, well, sometimes I'm tired. Sometimes I don’t feel like dealing with the possibility of sex, or even being touched in any way. It’s not that my guy doesn’t understand the word "no," because we're all about teaching and showing consent in our house, it’s more like this is just my lazy way of saying "no."
Look, I’m not advocating violence here. But, you know, sometimes my partner made me a little angry or annoyed one night. And sometimes I bring my kid into our bed. And, you know, sometimes, maybe, our kid is having a dream he's a Ninja Turtle or something. So, sometimes, he kicks my husband. And sometimes, after being incredibly frustrated by my son's tiny fists of fury, my partner will leave the room to go sleep on the couch.
All I’m saying is, sometimes I ain’t mad.
While my partner has more trouble sleeping than I do, he undoubtedly is a much heavier sleeper. I will wake up at the sound of a tiny sniffle coming from my son’s room, while my partner could sleep through a damn earthquake. This means I always end up being the first to wake if our child needs something.
Thankfully, bed-sharing means either parent might get up. There’s equal opportunity morning wakeup calls. Plus, there's also a chance I might just feign sleep so my husband gets up first.
It's really difficult to say no to a kid, especially one of your own making or whom you’ve known your whole life. They know just how to be sweet as pie to get what they want. My son wraps me around his pinky at night when he proclaims, with big eyes, “I’m sleeping in mommy’s room!”
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