We are one of the lucky ones: our child sleeps.
Wary of all the horror stories, we opted to give Cry It Out a shot. It worked like a charm (and I recommend it up and down). When our son goes to sleep, he stays asleep. For 11 to 12 hours. Every night.
But, every once in a while, when he’s not feeling well or is tossing and turning, we will let him sleep in our bed.
It never goes well.
I’ve also heard stories of couples who have King-sized mattresses. Floating fortresses of sleep in which it’s almost impossible to detect the presence of another human being. We are not one of those couples.
We have a Queen bed, which, once you’ve experienced a King, is nothing short of a slap in the face. Nothing but a pile of feathers that laughs as you attempt to claim one small piece as your own, that mocks as you futilely cling to one small sliver of space, only and always doomed to constantly, consistently brush against another’s limbs. A King is fit for its namesake. A Queen never lets you forget that you’re a peasant.
Such a small mattress shrinks even further when a third person hops aboard. Because, despite his fantastic sleep record, there are nights when he struggles a bit and, despite your better judgment, is allowed access to your already meager swath of sanctuary. A third person on a Queen? You might as well be laying on a bed of nails. You are NOT going to sleep.
Because no matter what time it is or how sleepy he is or how much chloroform we give him, once my son gets on our bed, it’s no longer bedtime for him: it’s play time.
Even at 3am with Mom and Dad laying beside him, face-down, mouths agape, drool a-flowing, his presence in our room, on our bed, between us, it’s like Christmas. So for the rest of the night, overcome as he is with happiness and energy, he sits up and babbles, endlessly, while occasionally slapping his parents about the face and head. He has claimed the Queen bed as his own, vanquished the sleep his parents so desperately need, and made an already too-small mattress even less forgiving.
Were the mattress a lifeboat and the floor the ocean, my dangling appendages would have been torn from me several times over by marauding sharks, hanging off the side as they do in order to allow my son and my wife room to themselves. Room that hardly exists.
For about ten minutes, sharing your bed with your toddler is cute.
It’s nice that he likes to be with us and cuddle a little. Especially since when we wake up in the morning he’s going to be a teenager and will barely be able to stand talking to us, never mind be in the same room. Yet despite our awareness of how fast he’s growing up and our desire to hang onto his childhood – which includes occasionally needing to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed – we’re fucking tired. And so those ten minutes pass quickly; from the eleventh minute on, the experience has become a waking nightmare. You’re sleeping with the enemy now! Good feeling gone, and soon so is our kid – quickly whisked back to his crib.
Hey, at least he gets the whole thing to himself.