Breaking My Own Rules

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I don’t let my kids sleep in my bed.

Stick with me here, I promise this isn’t a discussion on whether or not you should be bed sharing.  I don’t let my kids sleep in my bed for a number of reasons, the top one being that I value sleep, both mine and theirs.  My experience with bed sharing has been that no one ends up getting sleep.  That’s most likely because we aren’t accustomed to sharing a bed.

Last night, I broke that rule.  I was woken up at an ungodly hour by the sound of my oldest son sobbing.  I found him standing on the stairs, trying desperately to find me.  I picked him up, and felt him shaking as his arms wrapped around me tightly. I brought him into my room to try and calm him without waking the entire house.

I’m still not clear on the cause of the middle of the night wake-up, but I suspect a nightmare since all he would say to me was “you weren’t there.”  I just knew that when I moved the slightest muscle he begged me not to send him back to his own bed. 

I don’t consider myself to be a strict parent, but I do believe in having rules and boundaries.  Dinners are eaten at the table, bed times are enforced, and I don’t let my kids sleep in my bed.

How did I end up with a three year old sleeping soundly in my bed last night?  I asked myself this question as I laid very much awake, a tiny face pressed into mine and breathing loudly. 

Firstly, it was because I could tell he needed this.  Something had frightened him, and as a mother I wanted to comfort him.  He fell asleep with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck, his fingers playing with my hair as he drifted off.  He felt safe in my bed, under my covers, and in my arms.  I knew he needed that sense of safety.

The second reason is slightly more selfish.  It’s the same reason I found myself misty eyed as I watched him play in the bathtub that same night.  Both of my kids are growing so quickly.  Three is an amazing age.  Less than a year ago, PJ was a very different kid.  He still spoke in that toddler babble that was often hard to understand.  All of the sudden, his language has exploded, and I find myself having real conversations with him.  We discuss topics like germs (thank you Covid), microscopes, and how babies grow in their mommy’s tummies.  He’s learning to reason, to express his emotions, and to debate his point of view.  He suddenly doesn’t feel like a little kid anymore.  I very rarely have a child sleeping in my arms anymore, and I miss it terribly.

As a divorced mom, I share custody of my kid.  I find it incredibly important that he sees and has a relationship with his dad.  He loves and wants to spend time with his dad, and I never impede that relationship. Still, handing him over to sleep at a house that isn’t mine for a night, or a whole weekend, never stops being painful.  I miss him when he’s not around, and I hate losing time with him. 

Last night, he shouldn’t have been at my house.  I shouldn’t have been giving him a bath, or tucking him into bed, but plans needed to change and as a result I got to spend extra time with him. Ask any other parent who shares custody of their child.  We cherish the time we have, because it always feels so limited.

I don’t let my kids sleep in my bed.  Last night I did, and I have zero regrets. 

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