By Tracy ChappellUpdated Apr 04, 2017
It’s 3 a.m. I hear her sheets rustling before two little feet hit the floor. I say a silent prayer that she’s just heading to the bathroom, but that’s me stuck in dreamland. I keep my eyes closed. But can feel her there in front of me.
“Mommy?” my four-and-a-half year old, Avery, whispers, shaking my shoulder.
“It’s still nighttime sweetie,” I tell her. “Hop back into your bed.”
She shakes her head. “No, up,” she says.
“I’ll come and tuck you in,” I tell her.
This can go one of two ways, and I’m a bit surprised at which way is more common these days. You see, I’ve never been a fan of co-sleeping. I love the idea of it — for other people — but it’s never worked for me. I can’t sleep with them so close — their precious feet in my rib cage and their sweet breath in my face making me feel hot and claustrophobic, with no ability to turn or stretch out or have one foot out of the covers the way I like it. I can’t sleep. Then I get frustrated. Then, because they’re too heavy to carry, I go and climb into one of their beds.
Except if Sean is not there. And there are times that Sean stays up working late or is watching sports and falls asleep on the couch and stays there. And lately, if Avery approaches my bedside and I see that Sean is not there, I let her in. (I know! But I’m just tired!) “Go to Daddy’s side,” I’ll whisper. And she is so happy.
Surprisingly, I don’t mind sleeping with her. My rule is that she stays on her own pillow, instead of trying to join me on mine, which she now does. She falls right back to sleep and, except for an arm occasionally falling onto my face, I don’t notice she’s there… except the nice part: waking up to her sweet little face fast asleep beside me, or having her roll over to me for a cuddle or poke at my face when she wakes up in the morning. I tell myself that she must need me, that maybe she’s not getting enough attention from me during the day and is seeking it out at night, since this seems to happen in pockets of time and then stops. And, in the famous words of Sheryl Crow, if it makes us happy, it can't be that bad.
So what’s the problem here? Well, I do have a husband who does usually sleep with me. On those nights, I have to insist she return to her own bed because there just isn’t enough room for all of us to be comfortable. I’m sending her mixed messages about whether she can climb into our bed or not, and it often leads to her getting upset in the middle of the night and waking everyone up. And then I get upset, because I’ve brought it all on myself.
I should have just stuck with my no co-sleeping rule, but I can't seem to do it. I’m getting more and more reminders that Avery is growing into this big girl who already has two adult teeth and is growing out of size six clothes and says things like “Seriously?” and I just want to cuddle up with her and forget it’s happening for a little while.
P.S. In a completely unrelated note, Avery recently renamed one of her dolls — wait for it — Tortellini. And it has stuck. I don't know where it came from, but it's adorable. How can I ever let her grow up?
How do you deal with kids wanting to sleep with you in your bed? Leave your comments here or tweet me @T_Chappell