Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exception to the Rule

We are not a co-sleeping family. We have no well-considered parenting philosophy behind this decision; we want and need our sleep. My husband has to go to work and think critically, while I can't melt into a puddle of exhausted hysteria each day.

As a result of this policy, I've spent a fair number of hours sleeping on the floor over the past ten years. A fussy baby, sick kid, or bad dream means that I comfort the child in his or her room for as long as needed. With a single exception, no child has ever shared our bed.

Unmade Bed - Flotsam of the Mind

My son climbed out of the crib at 22 months. I'd read a parenting book that asserted I could teach him to stay in the crib. The trick was to pick up the child when he climbed out, make no eye contact or conversation, and return him to his crib multiple times until he finally learned that nothing exciting would happen from his escape.

I put the little guy into his crib and sat in the hallway waiting for him to appear. In a period of 45 minutes, I returned him to bed 60 times. I nearly collapsed with joy and exhaustion when he finally fell asleep.

While we slept that night, my husband and I heard the familiar shush-shush-shush of a diapered bottom walk into our room. I couldn't do it any more. I picked up my toddler, plopped him between us, and we all fell asleep until morning. It's one of our favorite parenting memories.

The kids are getting older, but I still have memory-making moments.

I've been sleeping in the guest room lately. It's another maximum-sleep exercise; my husband has been keeping odd work hours and not sleeping well. Sleeping by myself increases the odds that at least one of us will have a good night's sleep.

My now nine-year-old son woke me last night because he'd had a bad dream. I had been deeply asleep in my warm, cozy bed, and going to his room was more than I could muster. I offered to let him share the queen size guest bed with me for the rest of the night.

When my alarm when off today, my son still was snuggled next to me. In sleep, he looked so much like that diapered toddler that my heart nearly burst with motherly love. I snuck out of the room to get ready for the day, allowing him a few extra minutes of sleep.

Rules are important, but so are the exceptions. Last night was a worthy one.

My son slept with us only one night because the next day I put a baby gate across his door and converted the crib into a toddler bed. When he woke each morning, he would read and play in his room for a while before calling to us to come let him out.

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