I did something last night that I promised myself, as a parent, I would never do. I let my child sleep in bed with me. I’m not judging parents who share their bed with their kids, but for me, it’s off limits. It’s the only personal space I have – I don’t even get to go to the bathroom with the door closed – and I vowed never to give it up to the kids.
Until last night. When I put the boys to bed, Dylan sobbed and told me he was afraid to go to sleep because of Riley’s crying.
Let me tell you a little bit about Riley’s crying. He’s not the kind of kid who wakes up and coos or babbles in his crib until someone comes to get him. In fact, he wakes up every morning – sometimes as early as 4:30 – with a scream. And it’s not just reserved for the morning. A few nights ago, he had a screaming spell at about 11pm. If he could talk, he would say, “Get me the BLEEP out of this BLEEPING crib!” It’s as if he’s being stabbed repeatedly with a dull knife. It’s fascinating, actually, because he’s such as sweet, quiet boy. But man, he can scream.
Mike and I have an agreed upon parenting strategy for the middle-of-the-night or too-early-in-the-morning screaming – we ignore it. He usually falls back to sleep but only after 10 to 20 minutes of hellish crying. However, now that Dylan and Riley are roommates, our strategy is flawed. Dylan’s bed is a mere ten feet away from Riley’s crib. Even with his bed tent, he has no protection from the monster. Mike and I are in the next room, with a wall between us, and we’re tortured by the noise, so I can only imagine how scary it is for Dylan.
I understand his fear and frustration. Riley’s screaming has turned me into a jaw-clenching, wine-gulping insomniac. I wake up every morning around 4:15 in anticipation of his agonizing wake-up call. Even if he doesn’t cry (which happens very occasionally), my body goes stiff with anxiety and sleep is impossible.
Back to last night. I asked Dylan if he wanted have a separate bedroom from Riley and he said, “No, because I’ll still hear him crying.” Smart boy. It’s true. I think the neighbors hear him, too, and as I write this I wonder why no one has called the police suspecting some kind of foul play in our house.
Guilt is a powerful emotion. Dylan was really upset and I was exhausted, so I asked him if he wanted to sleep with me (Mike was out of town on business). As soon as the words spilled out of my mouth, I knew I had done something that I couldn’t undo. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you, if you let them sleep there once, they’ll want to sleep there all the time.
The night went okay. Dylan wanted to sleep with the lights on, so we compromised with a flashlight. I woke up a few times with a bright light shining in my eyes or Lightning McQueen poking me in the back, but overall it wasn’t a bad night of sleep. I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight, but Mike will be home and our queen size bed will start to get pretty crowded, especially if Harry joins us, which he often does. If I’ve lost my bed – my one sacred space – to my kids then it’s my own damn fault, but I’m hoping for a miracle. I’m also hoping Santa Claus will bring me a king size bed (and some sleeping pills) for Christmas…just in case.