For almost six months, when my daughter was a baby, she slept in our bed. This wasn’t me being a nurturing mother. This wasn’t co-sleeping. This was an eighteen-pound baby lying on my chest because she wouldn’t sleep in her crib. Out of desperation, her father and I brought her into our room, and within a week, she had managed to slither on top of me and nuzzle her face in my neck. We slept like that every night, until she got so big that her sweaty body felt like a Toyota on my chest.
She still frequently climbs into our bed. Bad dreams, noises, upset tummy and trips to the potty end with a visit to our room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered why things are suddenly a lot more crowded, and I have a lot less blanket.
But, my five year old son…well, he’s an entirely different story. He has NEVER slept in our bed. Well, maybe once, because he was sick and we forced him to. Not only that, he won’t get out of his bed unless we physically go into his room and tell him to get up. Not even on weekend mornings, when we would delight in having him watch cartoons with his sister while we sleep in.
The other night, when he went to bed with an upset stomach, then woke at 4:00 AM moaning and whining, I ran to his room and climbed in bed with him. It only took a minute to realize that his twin bed and my pinched nerve were no match, and since he wasn’t feeling well I thought he should come sleep with us. But when I asked him if he wanted to, he put his hand on my arm, stopped moaning, and in a strangled whisper said, “No. You go.” As if he was a gallant hero who was uttering his last words…”I’ll be okay. Just save yourself.”
As I climbed from his bed, I said, “I really think you should come sleep with Mommy.” But suddenly, he was a lot less chivalrous, though still full of drama…when instead of uttering a word, he simply turned his face to his wall and pointed to the door.