Almost every night I am awakened by one (or both!) of my children coming into my bed. I used to dream of a full night’s sleep, jealous of the wunderkind babies sleeping through the night early on. My bed has had a kid in it each night for the past five years. And while it used to get me feeling cramped, I’ve learned to embrace it.
My oldest child recently turned 5, but that hasn’t stopped him from climbing in beside me from time to time. I’ll hear a little voice beside my bed: “Mom, can I come into your bed?” he asks politely. I’m always surprised he bothers to ask so politely, since my answer is a wholehearted, “Bien sûr” (which means “of course” in French).
But once he is in my bed, all that etiquette goes out the window and he tosses and turns and rotates in circles.
The younger kid is a bit more demanding in her quest to come in, which I accept given she’s only 1. She cries “Mamaaaa!” into the dark of night from her crib until I wake, get out of bed, and scoop her into my arms.
Some nights I feel comfortable and at ease, knowing both my children are tucked up beside me, safely asleep. It’s almost as if I can rest easier knowing they’re both nearby, and surely I’d hear them if they were sick or needed something.
But some nights I feel squished and uncomfortable, like there’s no space for me in my own bed. I often wake up to find myself sandwiched between two littles, and certainly not on my pillow. Co-sleeping with kids is two-fold — they are arguably their cutest selves while asleep, yet they have no regard for sides of the bed, preferred pillows, or personal space.
Having my children want or need to be cuddled up beside me every night used to stress me out. It used to be one of the ways I felt I had failed in motherhood. Surely those other parents whose children slept through the night in their own crib had better routines, strategies, and boundaries. As time passed, I began to realize that it worked for my family, and so many other women do it too (the CDC reports about 60% of mothers bedshare).
So, instead of hoping, praying, and wishing they would just stay in their own beds, I moved my pillow to the middle — to plan for it. The days that they’ll want to cozy up next to me are numbered. They will stop asking to come in, and I’ll miss waking up next to their angel faces. I want them to feel comfortable coming to me — to feel safe and loved. They’ll grow out of it, I know, but I hope this connection remains strong between us as they become older and have different needs.
For now, I’ll cherish the middle pillow while I still need it.
Disclaimer: I do not endorse bedsharing with infants, and I suggest following safe sleep recommendations laid out by the American Association of Pediatrics here.