She does. And I don’t.
Hi everyone. My name is Sarah Spangenberg. I’m a twenty-eight year-old mom and my three-year-old daughter sleeps in my bed. I know a lot of you have some pretty strong opinions about that kind of stuff, and I expect a lot of “Huh?” “What?!” and “What’s the MATTER WITH YOU?” so please – don’t let me down. I have such a high opinion of the Internets and I’m rarely ever disappointed.
See, I was at the opposite end of the spectrum when my daughter was first born. She stayed in her bassinet, which was practically anchored on my husband’s side of the bed (we argued incessantly over that, but I was the one who worked out of the home during that period, so he won). Anytime he’d want to bring her into the bed, I’d shake my head vehemently, wave my arms around and squawk “No way! I roll in my sleep. I elbow, and kick, and do all sorts of mean things when I’m conked out – there’s no way I want a newborn to suffer through that.” A few seconds of silence ensued, and he looked at me blankly. “You mean you know you do these things?” I didn’t really have a response, so I changed the topic. “Plus. ‘They’ say that it’s not good to develop a habit of allowing your kids to sleep in your bed. It starts at an early age, you know.” I was SMUG, dammit. I had read Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. I knew what I was talking about, and my husband? LULZ did not.
The months went by and my daughter graduated from bassinet to a crib – in our bedroom. That was also my husband’s doing. It wasn’t enough that our bedrooms were literally next to one another, or that we had a baby monitor hooked up in such a close proximity to the speaker that it sometimes emitted a faint, high-frequency noise if you walked too purposefully past it. He wanted to make sure that our little darling was underneath our noses at all times, and to be right there if she needed us. Being the doting mom that I was, I had positively no problem with this. I mean, sex? There were totally ten other rooms in the house for that kind of business, you know?
Anyway, there came a point when Christmas arrived on the horizon, and Santa Claus was to pay a visit to the Spangenberg residence. The holiday after our daughter turned two, Santa Claus had a plan to bring a beautiful, pink and purple monstrosity known as Dora the Explorer Toddler Bed. In anticipation of the arrival, we took sweet toddler’s crib apart and stored it in the garage. We knew that it would probably take more than a few minutes to set up the Dora bed, and didn’t want to be fussing around too much on Christmas Eve after little girlfriend had fallen asleep. For the three or four days before Christmas, my daughter slept in our bed with us. She seemed kind of contrite, like she was getting away with something that she loved, but totally didn’t want to bring to our attention. When bedtime approached for those few days, she’d give me a sly look as if to say “Am I sleeping In There again, Mama?” And I? I was totally okay with this. In fact, something chemical had changed inside of me. I’d become more attuned to the fact that there was a snuggly, warm little body curled up next to me at night that smelled like maple syrup and sunny days, rather than the grunting, elbow-throwing husband that was not-so-secretly displeased at the helter-skelter way in which I chose to throw my arms and legs about in an innocent unconscious state.
Alas? The tradition had begun.
Christmas came and Christmas went and my little girl was just positively elated by the idea of her Dora bed. She just… didn’t want to sleep in it. After spending four blissful nights curled up next to the woman who birthed her, she’d made up her mind: she was going nowhere. She didn’t say this in so many words, but I could almost read her mind. She was sleeping next to me at night, after all. It became a tradition, in which we’d go into Mommy and Daddy’s big, comfy bed, read three or four books, baby girl would fall asleep and Mommy would sneak out of the room to do her Non-Mommy Adult Things. Mommy and Daddy (despite Daddy’s protests) would later join the little one in bed and the pattern continued, and continued, and … well, here we are a year and a half later, and our daughter’s going to turn four in November. She’ll leave the bed one day – and probably one day soon, just based on the fact that she’s a VERY TALL three-and-a-half year-old and she’s not going to want to sleep with Mommy and Daddy forever anyway – but I’m in no rush. I firmly believe that parenting is not about caring too much or not caring enough, it’s about being smart and intuitive enough to make better choices of what to care about on the whole. When it’s time, it’s time.
In short? Even though I want to blame my husband (just because), I suppose I’m the one that’s at fault. This also means I’m the one who’s going to suffer the consequences when my daughter approaches me on a random Friday night as a daughter who’d rather stay at home with her fogey parents when she’s seventeen years old, but you know what? At the risk of sounding like an old head, I think there’s much, much worse things that could happen, frankly.