I picked the topic of this post some time ago. Then, this morning, my daughter woke me up at 4:45. When I finally stopped trying to get back to sleep, I tiptoed around the four beds in my room (the king-sized bed I share with my husband, the cot my son crawls into when he wakes up at night and doesn’t want to sleep alone, the cot that my daughter sleeps in next to my bed, and the dog bed) and the four sleeping creatures nestled on each of those beds, so that I could work out before the sun came up.
And, I still love co-sleeping.
My kids are not great sleepers. We get more sleep when we’re close.
But, more than that, we like being close.
My kids are little. They are 4 and 1. They are still at the ages where I can solve all their problems with a hug. Just because I’m their mom.
And, while we can all pretend that this phase will end, it won’t.
When they come home from their first day of school, excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. When they don’t get picked for the team or they lose the student council election, or their first boyfriend dumps them, or they watch a scary movie, or they fail or they lose or they feel anxious or they feel scared.
Co-sleeping, for our family, goes beyond sleeping arrangements. It is about creating a safe environment for them. We lay with them until they go to sleep, which provides for some of the sweetest and most open conversations we have each day. Well, with my four-year-old. My one-year-old mostly just says “no” and giggles. But, my son tells us about his day. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he cuddles into the cot on the side of my bed. Neither of us sleep well in the same bed, but he knows that he can sleep close enough to his mama to reach out and hold my hand if he needs to.
Some day, he’ll grow up. I imagine both of my kids will be typical teenagers, groaning and rolling their eyes at their dear old mom and dad. I hope they’ll go out and live big lives full of adventure. I know they’ll experience love and grief and fear and excitement and loss and joy. My hope is that they always know that they have a safe space back home, even if we’re half way around the world and all we get is a phone call, or if we’re across the house and they crawl in bed with me to tell me about their day.
The actual “crawling into bed and snuggling next to me” part won’t last. They’ll eventually want their space. This part will end. But the “you are always safe and welcome here” part of co-sleeping will last forever.