The “family bed.” Do you know what this is? It’s how psychologists refer to your bed when your children sleep with you. It’s the pillow-y haven where the family nestles down together for the night, arms and legs draped across each other in a trusting, completely unprotected fashion. Soft breathing whooshes in and out of your little angels’ puckering, lightly parted lips while their dry, warm bodies cuddle into your scooping frame and together, you re-create the feel of your womb.
Well, I don’t like it.
And I confirmed this to myself last night when I let my son sleep in my bed.
I’m not big on co-sleeping. I’ve never been big on it. I know it works for some people. I, however, can’t have anyone else in my bed. Ever. Even when my boyfriend sleeps over, he is relegated to one side of the bed. If he crosses the line, there are consequences. Consequences that usually involve sex being withheld. Or a lot of scowling.
And here’s something they don’t tell you. Kids are pointy. They have elbows, knees, heels, chins, and cheek bones. And all these parts move. A lot. Especially when they’re sleeping. I needed shin guards and a face mask to protect myself from the onslaught of kicking, smacking, and stretching.
And then there was the grinding. Somewhere around 2:00 a.m., I woke to a sound like nails on a chalkboard … Grrrriiitttttt … gggrrrrraaaaaatttttt … griitt … gggrrrrrrriiiiittttttttttt. My son was grinding his teeth in his sleep. Who knew such tiny teeth could make so much noise?
Shortly thereafter came the snoring. Loud snoring. Like, old-man snoring …
And kids are much bigger than they look.
I’ve also let my oldest daughter sleep in my bed on occasion and I am always surprised to see how she unfolds to five times her natural size. I call her Origami Girl because it’s like her body is a folded paper design and at night the whole paper unfolds all over my bed. My son is a smaller origami form, but he takes up more room than my boyfriend. And he’s only seven. It’s unreal.
And let me introduce you to my son’s favorite stuffed animal, Funky Chicken, who spent the night staring at me with his wide chicken eyes. I’d wake up and there was Funky Chicken. Watching. Waiting. I’m not sure for what. Maybe for me to hit REM so he could prod Ben to shift positions. Why would I think this? Well, at 4:00 a.m. I was jolted awake by a kick to my thigh. My son was now sleeping sideways. Across my bed. Across me. There is no doubt in my mind this was Funky Chicken’s idea of retribution for putting him in a washing machine a few weeks earlier.
And then, of course … there was the “accident.” (Don’t tell my boyfriend though because he doesn’t know—and it was on his side of the bed …)
I won’t go into details, but let me just say that upon waking the bed was immediately stripped and cleaned.
I know there are moms out there who love this experience. I totally “get” the love you feel when you look at their tiny sleeping faces smushed up on the pillow. I totally “get” the feeling of protectiveness you experience by having them so close and I completely “get” why kids sleep so well in their parents beds. Yeah, yeah. All very sweet and cute.
But unfortunately the one thing about the family bed that I didn’t “get” at all is one of the things I cherish most: sleep.
Sarah Maizes is founder of Mommy Lite (www.MommyLiteOnline.com) a parenting humor site for moms and dads with short attention spans. Her work has been featured in Los Angeles Magazine, and on More.com, Shine.com, HybridMom.com, ParentsAsk.com, and Autisable.com (a website for parents of children with autism). Her next humor book Got Milf? The Modern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan will be published by Berkley in Spring 2011.