Family bed? HA! Sounds sweet and lovely and appealing...because "Jungle of legs and errant arms and head butts with a side of broken noses and pillows marked as territory" just doesn't have the same ring.
It’s deceptive advertising. But seriously, the virtues of the family bed are far exaggerated. That is unless you don’t intend your bed to be used for such outlandish things as sleeping. If you are looking for an easy to use jungle gym, the family bed is your thing.
As I have said, I was very clueless when I had my first child. So I stumbled upon the family bed after falling asleep while nursing. And I liked it. As shown by my rejection of bottle feeding, I am always about the easy way out. What is that they say, pennywise pound foolish?
Some of my favorite memories are coming home from church, after coffee and doughnuts of course, and having a family nap in our family bed. Glorious. I could even abide the fact that my daughter could only fall asleep by playing with my cuticles. Seriously. Traced each one with her little fingernail, and heaven help me if she found a hang nail. About this time I realized that tactile children were….challenging. And that self-soothing still, somehow, required mom. Again with the deceptive advertising. Baby did give up on pulling my hair to fall asleep when she could finally find some wisps on her own head. Mac went for the jugular, literally. Loved to play with my neck. X-Man is all about the ear. But, in a rare break for me, if he has a choice of an ear; he goes with his dad’s. I’ll wake up to see the boy lying on top of his father, ears in both hands.
The girls didn’t spend a whole lot of time in our bed. We learned with our first that lying down with her to take a nap was a totally great idea, until you discover that nap time is the closest thing you have to freedom for the next eighteen years. And you just decided to spend it as a visitor in prison. Partially because I was working so much when Baby was born, she slept well and on her own. Good child.
But then came friends who read baby books and new things about fads like “gentle parenting” and “attachment parenting.” They started extolling the virtues baby wearing and cosleeping and extended nursing and basically things that I was doing…..sort of. But if I wanted healthy, well-adjusted children, and who wouldn’t, I would have to embrace theses philosophies more fully. And so I did.
Who doesn’t want to be awaken from a semi-restful slumber to the announcement “Mommy I peed in your bed, so I’m going to go sleep in mine now.” It’s really actually a polite way to ease yourself into Monday. And it’s not like you could blow off laundry anyway.
It’s not like I tried to keep them with us. Just the opposite. In what I thought was a stroke of genius, I took them shopping with Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa, to buy their own bedding. What better way to convey that “This is YOUR bed” than sleeping in your own Tow Mater sheets. That victory lasted about three hours. Just long enough for me to assume that I was indeed in the clear. "There are monsters in my room, or, I mean, a robot. There's a big robot in room, and I'm scared. I mean, Spiderman. Spiderman is in my room, can I sleep with you?"
"I thought Spiderman was your friend, why are you scared?"
"Spiderman is in my bed, so I need to sleep with you”
Of course Spiderman is in your bed, YOU put him there. Along with every matchbox car in existence. As we discovered when it was bedtime. Mac jumped into bed yelled "ouch" and jumped back out. He pulled the covers back, announced "oh yeah, cars sleeping" and proceeded to remove 20 or so cars and trucks from his bed. At least they were sleeping in his bed. Mac believes that the term “family bed” should be stretched to include any and all toys that catch his fancy. It wasn’t until I woke up with a matchbox car tangled in my hair, and that’s every bit as much fun as it sounds, that I realized he wasn’t limiting himself to the cars he could carry in his hand. Oh no. FYI footed pajamas make great toy carriers. Simply unzip a bit and start filling. If it sounds uncomfortable to sleep like that, that’s because it is. So of course all the cars must come out, in mommy and daddy’s bed. And sometimes the diaper comes off with them.
It’s not that I didn’t try to keep it clear that THIS was mommy and daddy’s bed. In OUR bedroom. But our world is really my kids’ oyster. I distinctly remember instructing Mac one night that if he was disgruntled about a perceived misappropriation of blankets between parents and child, he was welcome to move back to his room where there were blankets aplenty and ripe for the taking. He actually listened and trundled off to his bedroom. I did not intend for him to return with every blanket
Other things I was never prepared for. Being awakened at 2am, being smacked in the face. Mac smiled and said “go sleep mommy. I pet you." So I said, “Ok”. In all fairness, this had nothing to do with cosleeping or having a family bed. He was in his own room at the time….or he was supposed to be. I’m not sure how you teach “you shouldn’t really pet mama when she is supposed to be sleeping.” I should have gotten the boy a dog. And then dealt with a two year old boy and a puppy. At that point in time, I’d would have rather be awoken while the boy is going through his petting phase. But by the third night, when he woke me up and asked if he could pet me, I said “no” and that phase ended.
Only to be follow a couple weeks later by Mac waking me up to talk to his hair. And I did. I don't know who has more issues. It was early in the morning, so I don’t really remember what I said. Something about getting enough sleep helps hair grow like wildfire. And boy has it.