Thank you KJ DELL’ANTONIA of New York Times’ Motherlode blog for originally posting this article about the throes of parenting. Anyone with small kids is going to feel me on this one!
GO SLEEP SOMEWHERE ELSE
I have a 2-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son who sleep in bed with me and my wife. Every. Single. Night.
It wasn’t always this way. My wife and I used to spoon. If one of the kids woke up, we would take turns jumping out of bed to change, feed and rock them back to sleep. Then we would lay them in their cribs, tiptoe back into the master bedroom and snuggle into each other’s arms. It was perfect.
At around 2 1/2, our son mastered the art of twisting door knobs. He learned that instead of crying or calling for us to assist him at night, he could just as easily sneak into our bed and make himself comfortable. His sister quickly followed suit. Before I knew it I was sleeping on the edge of my own bed, with two haphazardly sprawled toddlers between me and my beloved cuddle buddy.
Our kids have grown so dependent that they can barely drift off for an afternoon nap if one of us in not lying beside them. It’s gotten to the point where I sleep in my son’s bed several nights a week because there is barely room enough for me in my own bed.
My wife seems content with the status quo, or at least reluctant to send our children into exile. I, on the other hand, am at my wits end. I’m tired of wrapping myself in a Power Rangers blanket with my legs dangling off the edge my son’s tiny bunk bed, while he nestles next to my wife on my Tempur-Pedic mattress!
Our band’s drummer, Stephen, whose wife gave birth to a healthy and adorable baby boy less than two weeks ago, often asks me about fatherhood. I’ve told him that deciding to be a dad is like deciding to be a musician: there is no money in it, you work really late nights, and you have to get used to crashing on a couch.
Parents, I know you’ve been there. Any advice for shifting the kids back to their own mattresses once things are out of hand? How about for convincing a spouse who doesn’t mind the invasion that there’s something to be said for everyone sleeping in his or her very own space? (Besides putting up YouTube videos or persuading the family blogger at The New York Times to help you make your case. He’s tried that.)
What do you do when you’re the only member of the family who hasn’t bought into the idea of the family bed?
Pierce Freelon is a musician in the hip hop and jazz quartet The Beast and a professor in the music department at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He blogs at TheBeastMusic.com.