My youngest will be 6 in just a couple of weeks.
Due to the obvious gap in their age differences, I was a much different person when my youngest was born than I was when my older daughters were born. When my firstborn and middle daughters were born, I read all the parenting magazines and books and tried to follow all the rules. I worried constantly about whether or not I was doing the "right" thing and whether my mistakes would traumatize and/or scar my children for life.
Needless to say, neither my firstborn nor my middle child ever slept in our bed when they were babies.
Unlike my two older daughters, my youngest was born into an established family of chaos...She was a "surprise" and I was adamant that life wouldn't revolve around her. I was determined that my youngest would have to "hit the ground running" with our family. How dare she show up in the middle of our lives!
Taking time off and doting on her was not an option I was prepared to offer; my older daughters were already involved in many activities. I would take off as little time from work as I could so my students wouldn't have someone else grading their research papers.
(This makes me nauseous to think about today...and guilty).
After my youngest was born, I kept her on my schedule...
except for one incredibly important thing.
My youngest was not a good sleeper.
I love sleep.
I crave it.
I need it.
My mom worried about me when she sent me to first grade because she didn't know how in the world I would make it through an entire day without a nap.
Not much has changed.
It's difficult, to say the least, to "keep on truckin'" with your established family chaos when you've not had much sleep.
Especially for me.
So, one night...in desperation...
I put my 8 week old baby in the bed with me.
I hear Social Services knocking on the door...
Thank goodness there's a statute of limitations on putting your baby in the bed with you.
I imagine Social Services would be content to sentence me with "time served" since my 6 year old "baby" is still in the bed with me.
Anyway, I woke up the next morning after putting my infant to bed with me...I was on my back and she was sound asleep on my chest. I remember realizing that I had actually had a few hours worth of sleep!!!!!!
That was it.
It was a done deal.
My youngest has been in the bed with us ever since.
Until this past weekend at my mom's.
My youngest announces on occasion when we visit my mom that she is going to sleep in her bed in the "pink room." (My mom has bedrooms decorated for us all in her house.)
As I do every time my youngest mentions her plan, I said, "Yeah, yeah...ok...sounds good...knock yourself out."
I was on my computer reading blogs and settling in for the night.
A little while later my youngest came in my room at my mom's house and climbed up on the bed next to me (as she usually does a little while after she says she's going to sleep in her bed at my mom's house)
Never looking up from my computer, I said, "Whatcha doin'?"
She said, "Just goin' to snuggle for minute."
Still not really paying attention (mostly because this behavior is very predictable), I simply said, "K."
My youngest stayed next to me only for a couple of minutes and then slid off my bed and went back down the hall. Again, I never looked up from my computer.
All very normal behavior.
All very normal behavior.
An hour or so later, I finally was too sleepy to read anymore so I shut off my computer, brushed my teeth, plugged up my phone, etc.
Then and only then did I realize my youngest was not in the bed with me. The possibility that she might be in her own bed did not even enter my mind. I just assumed she was still up somewhere watching t.v.
I walked down the hall, and to my utter amazement, this is what I saw:
I was scared to death to take this picture.
I just knew the flash would wake her.
The first night after getting over my shock, I chalked it up to a sleepy 5 year old who had fallen asleep while watching SpongeBob...the second night, however, she was back in "her own room" again.
My wise mom said, "It is time."
The next afternoon we went to Pottery Barn Kids and picked out a sweet little twin bed for my youngest...complete with trundle bed for her stuffed animals (or her mommy). My youngest's new bed is scheduled for delivery on March 3...which is, coincidentally, her 6th birthday.
I've been waiting for 6 years for my youngest to sleep in her own bed...so why do I feel funny about it??
To be continued...