Family Bed

16 comments | June 6th, 2012

(story by Renea from ThinkandPonder.com)

Can I please have my bed back now?

After weathering the twin tsunamis of weaning and potty training, the two most anxiety producing events in a new mom’s life, my husband and I decided that after 5 YEARS, we might like to sleep next to each other in the bed again.

Not only did “Our Precious” sleep between us, but due to her overwhelming need to be close to me and my “Nips” (weaned or not), she literally slept ON MY HEAD.

We started out the night with one tiny arm over my neck and one tiny leg thrown over my waist in a human impression of “tiny baby monkey clings to Momma monkey”; oh so cute in the wild, not so cute in our Queen size bed.

I hate to re-visit a sore subject – but way back before I had a child, when I was a judgmental bitch, I said things like, “babies are supposed to sleep in their own beds”, “it is not healthy for a child or a marriage for the baby to sleep with the parents.”  What did I know?

First of all, for the “cry-it-out” folks –  no judgment – but studies show that orphaned infants also stop crying in the night too, BECAUSE THEY LEARN THAT NO ONE IS COMING.

I did not want my baby to stop needing my comfort because she no longer trusted that I would be there.  If I wanted to let her cry for me and refuse to go to her, then I would/ should have never had a baby in the first place.  Just sayin’.  My way.  May not be yours.

And remember, this is just my opinion, and since I am no longer being judgmental, please do not take that as a criticism and/or ringing endorsement of anything that you have personally done/ not done.

(Dear Karma:  Please do not smite me for these words.)

For those who worry about the quality of a Family Bed family’s “marital relations”, let me just say that for 5 years, my husband and I made whoopie in every part of the house BUT the bed.  We would get Lina to sleep, then sneak OUT of bed to the guest room, hallway, kitchen… whatever suited our fancy at the moment.

When she FINALLY moved to her own room, we found it kind of exotic to be intimate in our own bed.  “Wow,” we thought, “this is STRANGE”; “People DO this?” – “In a BED”?

And listen, just like breast feeding a toddler, and changing the diapers of a child old enough to dress herself, this wasn’t really my PLAN.  It was more like KARMA for having an “opinion” – no judgment – about how people should raise their children, when I myself was childless.

Here is my new rule:  people without children should SHUT UP about those of us who do.  Right or wrong, we are doing the best we can.

And remember the number one law of Karma:  Your “opinion” will come home to bite you in the ass.  So if you run your mouth, wear some thick pants.

My husband didn’t sleep well all those years.  Neither did I, but as a stay-at-home Mom, I had less reason to complain.  My daughter and I were hedonistic about sleeping in late.  For the first three years at least, we were like hippies living in a commune.  We ate and slept whenever we felt like it.  Grab a snack.  Go back to bed.

Then, we moved to a new state when she was 5-years-old, and we thought this would be the perfect time to introduce the concept of her “Own Big Girl Room”!  

So, like the elaborate Big Girl Party for weaning, and rewards, toys, gifts, candy, bribes and Doll House for learning not to poop in her pants, she was shown a picture of a FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR, toddler-height loft bed, with canvas panels and a turret that made it look like a castle with stairs and a SLIDE… are you kidding me? How is that for a flippin’ carrot?

I want this bed!  

I was well aware that as a child, I was bottle fed, slept in a crib in a room down the hall from my parents, and while I don’t remember potty training, I know I wasn’t almost 4 either.  

So I somehow managed to achieve all these milestones without robbing the parental bank.

Yet my child, through no guile of her own, had managed to have the Midas touch for growing up.

To get her reward, she was required to sleep in her old bed for a week before I ordered the new one.  I would have been furious to have spent that kind of money on a bed to still have her sleeping on my head.  Had that been the case, I swear, she would not have been let near the slide.  No way was she going to get an indoor play gym and still choke me to death in my sleep.

While we were house shopping for her “new room”, she was actively involved in the house hunt.  We turned down many a house due to the lay-out of the rooms.  Her bedroom could not be on the opposite side of the house from ours.  If we had any hope of ever sleeping alone as a married couple again, her bedroom could not be miles away from ours during the initial trial phase.

We finally found a lovely home with an adjoining bath between her room and ours.  The door is left open between and I can talk to her from our bed at night.  Essentially it is the same room with a short passageway between.  We go back and forth saying “goodnight” and “I love you” like The Waltons, until she falls asleep.  ‘Night John Boy.

I hear Moms mourn the passage of an era; how their babies are growing up.  I am in no rush – OBVIOUSLY – but I tend to celebrate each milestone and am thankful we have moved on – I think because we don’t take them lightly at our house.

My daughter does not go springing into her future, bold and curious, but holding my hand and treading lightly.  Since my goal in life is for her to never, ever be unhappy… ever, even for a single moment, I have indulged her needs for comfort and security.

I am happy with my choices and enormously proud of the lovely child that I brought into this world, yet at the same time, I am happy to have my bed and my boobs back to myself.  And if I never see a diaper again, it will be too soon.  As an older mom, I was a little afraid that I might be in a diaper before she got OUT of one.  Happy Days are Here Again!

Wait, my 7-year-old just asked me when she would be old enough to kiss boys.  Holy Crap. {end story}

Were you raised in a family bed?  Did you/are you/will you raise your kids (if you choose to have them, of course) in a family bed?  Family bed…happyness or sleep deprivation; let's #discuss.

(read more Renea here: www.thinkandponder.com)


  • Lily

    Posted on June 6, 2012

    I did it when my two children were infants. The resulting sleep deprivation made me irrational and cranky, which wasn’t an ideal state for parenting. We moved the kids into their own rooms after a few months, and my husband often got up with them to make sure I got enough uninterrupted sleep to be functional the next day. He’s able to fall asleep much faster than I am, so this was less of a hardship for him.

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  • Lily

    Posted on June 6, 2012

    Also, your piece does come off as somewhat judgmental. Saying “no judging” and then going on to judge doesn’t actually add up to not judging.

    If you want to judge, judge; if you don’t, don’t — but you can’t have it both ways.

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  • Jessica

    Posted on June 6, 2012

    This article makes me sad…

    I am so sick of mothers judging other mothers on parenting. You lost me at “no judgement” because the judgement was pretty clear. To attempt to shame mothers into feeling guilty because they went a different route than you is wrong. Simple wrong. Orphans live a very different life than my child. Their days and nights are nothing like the ones my husband and I provide to our 4 year old son. I resent your irresponsible comment.

    This website is supposed to be an outlet for happiness. For encouragement. For positivety. This article didn’t do it for me.

    Co sleeping vs crying it out, breast feeding vs formula, circumcision vs not, stay at home parenting vs day care, spanking? I could go on and on. We all have opinions on these choices, but I will never judge any of you for choosing a different path than the one my husband and I went with.

    To the mother of this article.. Your daughter is very lucky to have all the love and support you provide to her and you are blessed to have such a beautiful girl. I am happy that your family is happy and healthy.

    My family, my son is happy and healthy too. He is silly, kind, adventurous, independent, smart, outgoing..of course I could go on. We all can when it comes to our children. Just because I may raise him differently than the next mom might does NOT mean he will grow up any less loved with all the cuddling and encouragement and support we can shower him with!

    I hope to see more positive and happy articles on parenting in the future! And to all the mommies and daddies out there who are doing their best in raising happy, healthy, kind children I think you’re pretty awesome!

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    • OOC/FMB

      Posted on June 6, 2012

      Jessica and Lily…first thanks for adding your voices to this.

      We’ll admit, we’ve re-read Renea’s story a few times since reading your comments to see what we missed the first time…and are not sure we do ~ but that’s ok. A few things:

      1. The only rule of our site is no judgments. Anyone can have any opinion they want but they can’t judge anyone else’s opinion. Disagree…have at it. Judging it, doesn’t fly. To us, the line is in the difference between pronouns. Say anything in the first person but when “I” make it about what “you” do and say it’s “wrong” versus “not for me”…that’s where the judgment is. We may be wrong, but we don’t see Renea’s story crossing this line.

      2. Jessica, specifically to your point….this site, this brand, all our efforts are about helping you and her and her feel more better and be happyer*. We don’t think this is accomplished nay be serving up only the happy and the uplifting but the thought provoking and conversation generating. It’s why we spell “happier” with a Y….because we think we become happier when we understand not just what we like and don’t, want and don’t – but understand WHY we feel the way we do.

      We think we (and Renea in this moment by extension) have done what we hope to do…help our readers think about the what and the why. We love your disagreement because we believe that in your disagreement you’ve come to be more clear about your what and why, and thus – even if wrapped in a moment’s disappointment and frustration – that you get what works for you and what doesn’t with even more clarity than you did before. Does that make any sense?

      3. To your last point and paragraph…yes and yay. None of us parent alone, we parent with each other, our neighbors, our kids’ classmates, teachers, and bus drivers…for better and worse. We are all in this together which is why we first named the brand Off OUR ChestS not off my chest. We hope you’ll all keep being a part of the we and the our and the us.

      We’d also be remiss not to share that our archives are full a breadth of emotions and a depth of experiences, experiences about being and growing up a girl, and being and becoming a happier woman. Some are sad, some are infuriating, some are wildly uplifting…all are intended to help make it easier to be a happyer girl and happyer woman.

      Always, always let us know what you think and what else we can do. You can always tell us here or @TalkToUs@OffOurChests.com.

      Thanks again…and thanks to you both for disagreeing so productively and constructively. (And sorry this is so long.)

      eva and seth

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      • Lily

        Posted on June 15, 2012

        I’m actually fine with people being judgmental — just as long as they own up to the fact that that’s what they are doing. If it’s not part of the ethos, well, it’s your site, of course, and you are the one to decide whose pixels grace your pages.

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        • OOC/FMB

          Posted on June 20, 2012

          Lily, your comments are always so thought-full and smart.

          Yea, the no-judgments rule is the one rule of the place. As above, we want to differentiate between disagreement and judgment. The former, productively offered, is great, but too many of us too often don’t do or say or be what we want for fear of being judged for it.

          If we can create a place where disagreement can help along consideration but be free of judgment, we’re hoping we can encourage someone to share or feel or be or do what they might not otherwise.

          Thanks for getting it.

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    • Renea

      Posted on June 14, 2012

      See my comment above. No offense intended. If you are confident with your choices, then that is all that is required. Seriously, no judgement.

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  • Janey

    Posted on June 6, 2012

    I still climb in bed next to my mom some nights when I’m home.

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  • CoCo

    Posted on June 6, 2012

    Renea, I can relate to many parts of this piece. I have done all that I can to make my children as secure as possible. However, I just hope you know that it is impossible to insure that your child is always happy! You wrote:

    Since my goal in life is for her to never, ever be unhappy… ever, even for a single moment

    I think a range of emotion is normal and necessary. Can’t get the highs without the lows, you know? Just had to say it.

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    • Renea

      Posted on June 14, 2012

      Again, see my responses above. I am a humor writer, with a grain of truth, because the truth or the exaggeration of it, is what is funny to me. I suspect that none of you would enjoy my stories, but if you cared to visit my blog, you would see what I mean! You should read the one on breastfeeding! That will get your blood pumping.

      The comment on happiness was totally tongue-in-cheek. It was an exaggeration of what I actually feel. The hyperbole was meant to be funny.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on June 6, 2012

    It is soooooooooooooooooo hard not to be judgmental.
    That’s the truth.
    For me.

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  • Renea

    Posted on June 14, 2012

    Last statement: I make it a policy to respond to all comments on my stories, including on my blog. I absolutely agree that parenting is the hardest freakin’ job on the planet! There are no right answers. We are all doing the best we can. Thanks Eva and Seth for defending me! I, too, appreciate and respect all thoughts and comments. Thanks for sharing!

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