I don’t know what it is about mommy’s bed. But apparently, when a child can’t fall asleep, the only place to go is mom’s bed—and like magic, the sandman comes and knocks said child out. What I found out recently is that it doesn’t even have to be your mom. Marshall was having a friend sleep over the other night. Both boys were snoring happily by about 10 p.m. and I blithely went to bed. About 1 a.m., I sensed a presence by bed. It’s Max saying he can’t fall asleep so I groggily tell him to climb in. He’s asleep in seconds. When I awake in the morning, there’s a boy in bed next to me. No big surprise. But it takes me a minute to realize it’s not mine.
I never intended to co-sleep. But Marshall had other plans. From the minute he was born, he liked to be next to me—in my arms, lying by my side, lying on top of me. For the first week, the only place he slept was on top of my chest. At least he slept, right? I had heat rash from having his sweaty little (warm, lovely) body on top of me practically 24/7.
For the next two years, I pretended that we didn’t co-sleep. I’d put him in his crib and he’d pretend he would sleep through the night. It never happened. At some point, the crying would outlast any visions of sleeping alone dancing in my head. My goal was sleep, and it was best achieved with him beside me.
When he was 2.5, I changed his crib into a toddler bed and built a small wall around the dining room so that he would have more of an official bedroom. Well, that was the end of that. For the next year, I succumbed to the inevitable, stopped pretending, and put him to sleep in my bed. It just worked. My personal cutoff point was sitting in the room until he fell asleep. I refused. To me, that time was more important than sharing my sleeping space with a snoring, kicking, flip-flopping boy who for some reason slept well when in mom’s bed.
Yes, I woke up with toes in my nose. Yes, I woke to the sound of a child falling on the floor. Yes, I woke when he flip-flopped till he was lying on top of me. Yes, I got kicked in the kidneys, the ribs, anyplace he could land a good one. But overall, we slept. Overall, the amount and quality of sleep was better than when he was in a separate room. At 3.5 years, we went bed shopping. He got a low loft bed and slept in it. Went to bed in it and woke up in it. Sure, there were times when I woke in the morning and there was a boy in my bed. Not sure how or when he got there, but he would wake up, come to my room, and crawl in beside me. And honestly, there were times I missed him, missed climbing in next to warm, snoring, flip-flopping little body. But it was time and he was willing. And again, for the most part, it worked. He went to bed and stayed there, and I got my own space back.
It’s not for everyone. But it worked for us. And now? Marshall is nine and there are still times when I have a boy in my bed. The night before the first day of school, I don’t even ask. I let him choose and consistently, he’s chosen my bed. It’s a comfort thing, a safe feeling, a primal urge. I don’t know and honestly, I don’t mind. Will he be there the night before the first day of middle school? High school? Probably not. But for now, he knows that if he needs the safety and magic of mom’s bed, he has it.