Dear Concerned Citizens of Sleep:
I noted your cocked eyebrow, slight mutter or loud vocalization when I mentioned casually that my daughter slept in my bed last night. For a second, I thought that instead of telling you that my 4-year-old enjoyed a nighttime snuggle with her momma that perhaps I had said I let my daughter smoke crack. The sound of your voice when you repeated to me, "You let her sleep in your bed sometimes?" sounded more like I had just revealed I slept with someone's husband, and not that as a special treat or sometimes just because I miss my daughter, she sleeps in my bed.
Oh, yes, she sleeps in my bed, dear friend, family member, co-worker, random stranger and passersby. Not every day, but sometimes after she's been with her dad during his parenting time or if she's sick or just missing her working mom that she only has four nights a week, I invite her to hop in bed with me for the nighttime slumber.
Although I don't sleep as well when she decides to join me, there is a comfort in having my daughter by my side. It is hard to be an almost-divorced parent who misses parts of your kid or kids' lives while gone with the other parent. It is hard to be a young child who misses her mother and can't always vocalize how much she wants her parents to be back together. The special nighttime sleep routine is comforting for us both.
When she was a teething baby and I was a nursing mama, I retrieved her from her crib and brought her into bed with me a few times a week for at least three months. Sometimes, it bugged the crap out of me. She latched on and off my breast like she was a smoker sneaking in a few quick puffs on break every two seconds, and I rarely got a great night's sleep. It was what I had to do, though, and was better than sitting upright in a rocker while she nursed and I stared at the ceiling or my iPhone reading Facebook status updates from other insomniacs and mothers desperately wishing for a night of sleep.
It has been a long time since those nursing days, and my daughter had gotten into the routine of being in her own big girl bed, until darkness started to scare her a bit and Mommy and Daddy separated. Suddenly, she wanted to return to the "womb." Who could blame her? Her world was crashing as she knew it and the two people she loves the most somehow can't be in the same place at the same time other than for shared family events and short exchanges and drop-off's, etc. Asking to join myself or her father to snuggle to sleep is not a crime for any child, especially one enduring stress. If it would help her, why not pat the bed and welcome her in for a night or two a week?
Yet whenever I have even dropped a hint that my daughter has had access to my bed, it's as if the listener wants to call out an APB to let me know how terrible my life is now going to be since my daughter joined me in bed.
"Now she'll always want to sleep in your bed!"
"You'll never get your bed back!"
"She's a big girl. She can sleep in her own bed."
"Really? In your bed?"
"We never let our kids do that. Oh no, no, no."
In my opinion, whether you do it nightly or sometimes like myself, it's not going to ruin your kids. My daughter, when she's 13, won't be asking to sleep in my bed. When she's 18, I will have to fight to be sure she's not in someone else's bed.
My girl will not want to be with me forever. Our children will not want to be with us forever. My daughter will spread her little sassy wings and fly away without looking back once, and that's the truth. And really, I am alone as a single woman... is my daughter in my bed hurting that non-existent sex life of mine? And if I were to meet someone, I have quite some time before he meets her and stays over when she is home. Oh and News Flash, Concerned Citizens: there are co-sleeping parents that have sex still ... I don't know how that is as I've never done it, but they do.
Why is it such a crime to co-sleep, and what makes other random people the experts on what will happen to my kid if she hops into my bed? What do people think, anyway? That children turn into losers or serial killers because they slept in their parents' beds? Or that parents become serial killers and losers because their kids joined them in bed? People have been doing this since the dawn of time. Other cultures co-sleep exclusively. So far while we have a decent amount of bad people on the planet, we also have some pretty outstanding people on our planet.
We comfort our kids as parents and our sleep environments should bring us comfort. Combine the two and voila -- a stressed kid becomes a sleeping, happy kid. What's wrong with that? And why oh why, do you random lady at the park care about my sleep situation? Do my choices make you feel insecure about yours? Or do you just feel so fragile about who you are as a parent that you need to notify everyone of his or her supposed shortcomings as parents. Why do we feel the need to constantly add our two cents to others about their choices whether parenting related or something else? People need to zip their lips!
Parents currently sleeping with your kids: Ignore the naysayers and do what you want and feel comfortable with. Unless these strangers are hopping into bed with me, they can keep on rolling their eyes and huffing under their breath.
A Mom Whose Kid Takes Up Three-Quarters of the Bed