Before I had Luca, I was adamant about many things.
Like, he wasn’t going to watch too much television.
Now, at almost four years old, he can pretty much belt out every cartoon theme song that’s ever be written.
He wouldn’t be big juice drinker, because of the sugar factor. Selfishly, this was more for my benefit than his, because HAVE YOU SEEN A KID CRACKED OUT ON FRUIT PUNCH?
This bit me in the ass hard, after discovering he was allergic to the milk I’d been poisoning him with for two years.
I would not spoil him with material things.
He has approximately 4,034 dinosaurs.
And the big one, I WILL NOT BE A CO-SLEEPER! Nothing against people who are, it just wasn’t for me. My bed was my bed and his was his.
End of story.
Until it wasn’t.
He now crawls into my bed every. single. night. around one in the morning, sometimes earlier.
It hasn’t always been this way. He used to fall asleep on his own each night, and wake up in his own bed each morning.
I can’t recall exactly when it happened, maybe sometime towards the end of my pregnancy with Leo, or when we switched him to a big boy bed in another room, or possibly when he became aware of things that go bump in the night.
Whatever the catalyst was, it caused me to begin lying next to his bed each night, until he was out cold.
This backfired on me rather quickly. He grew accustomed to having me by his little side when trying to fall back asleep. So, when he’d wake up throughout the night and I was gone, he couldn’t go back to sleep without me.
I became his security blanket…his pacifier.
Fine, as long as he was still sleeping in his own room, I could deal.
Then one day he got sick with something minor, probably a cold, so I brought him into my bed to snuggle.
And again the next night.
And the next.
Everyone had an opinion on it, as everyone usually does.
Ohhhh, bad move. You’re never going to get him out of your bed now. Tough love. Let him cry. It will only take a few nights.
Everyone’s balls are so much bigger from the sidelines, aren’t they?
But, it wasn’t like he was being a spoiled child or taking advantage of my weak nature. My Luca is so very sensitive. To everything. And, for this, I am so very grateful. Because, I want him to be sensitive. But, as little as he is, it can be really tough to process, and feel, all those emotions.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total pushover. If he’s throwing a fit because I won’t buy him a toy, I have no problem letting him throw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming.
I don’t indulge that sort of behavior with him.
Most days, anyhow.
But, this? This is different.
The kid is terrified of the dark. How can I possibly take a tough love approach?
I’m especially sensitive to this because I was TERRIFIED of the dark as a child. For years, I’d lie awake at night in tears, my tiny body buried under my covers, because everyone knows they make you invisible. I’ll always remember the sweet relief that came with crawling into my mom’s bed.
For the past year, I’ve tried to get him to stay in his bed. There have been many late night shouting and crying matches, leaving us both frustrated and drained.
Then one day a thought occurred to me. I pictured myself a decade from now, looking back on this period in our lives, wondering what I would tell myself.
And I have no doubt what it would be.
Why was I ever so fucking hard on my baby because he wanted to sleep with his mommy?
The regret would be excruciating for me.
And the silly thing is, I was being so hard on him because of all the well-intentioned shouts from the sidelines. Because of what other people were telling me was right and wrong.
But, you know what I’ve decided?
Fuck other people.
I know they mean well, but this is my baby and my life…AND MY BABY!
Someone recently approached it from a different angle, asking me, “Well, how is this affecting your quality of life?”
And you know what?
It’s making my life better.
I love scooping him, his blankie, and ten dinosaur friends into my arms when he’s scared and crying in his dark room. The relief on his face is a relief I know all too well. When he falls onto my bed and snuggles up next to me, all the worry is gone from him.
And, I love waking up next to him, with his crazy, beautiful bed-head.
Isn’t all this my job as his mother?
Sure, there are nights when I’m frustrated, with a foot in my eye and a dinosaur up my ass, but it is what it is.
He needs me.
And really, I need him just as much.
As a parent, there are so many battles we have to fight. So, I’ve decided that this will no longer be one of them.
Because, if he doesn’t feel safe in his own house, where can he feel safe?
Besides, the day will come when he won’t want to sleep with me. I’ll eventually be replaced by some skanky high-schooler with piercings in odd places.
So, for now, I’ll continue letting him crawl into my bed each and every night, until he decides he doesn’t need me by his side to face the night anymore.
But, there’s one thing I want to be really clear about….
I am not a co-sleeper.