Since when did it become such a crime to co-sleep with your child?
Dear Concerned Citizens of Sleep,
I noted your cocked eyebrow, slight mutter, or loud vocalization when I mentioned casually that my daughter slept in my bed last night. For a second I worried that instead of telling you that my 4-year-old enjoyed a nighttime snuggle with her mom that perhaps I'd said I let my daughter smoke crack.
The sound of your voice when you repeated to me, "You let her sleep in your bed sometimes?" sounded more like I just revealed I slept with someone's husband.
Oh, yes, she sleeps in my bed, dear friend. Not every day but sometimes after she's been with her dad during his parenting time, or if she's sick, or just missing her working mom that she only gets to see four nights a week, I invite her to hop in bed with me for the night.
Although I don't sleep as well when she decides to join me, there's a comfort in having my daughter by my side. It's hard to be an almost-divorced parent who misses parts of your kid or kids' lives.
It's hard to be a young child who misses her mother and can't always vocalize how much she wants her parents to be back together. The special nighttime sleep routine is comforting for us both.
When she was a teething baby and I was a nursing mama, I retrieved her from her crib and brought her into bed with me a few times a week for at least three months.
She latched on and off my breast like she was a smoker sneaking in a few quick puffs on break every two second, and I rarely got a great night's sleep. It was what I had to do, though, and it was better than sitting upright in a rocker while she nursed and I stared at the ceiling or my iPhone reading Facebook status updates from other insomniacs and mothers desperately wishing for a night of sleep.
It's been a long time since those nursing days and my daughter has gotten into the routine of being in her own big girl bed.
That is, until Mommy and Daddy separated.
Suddenly, she wanted to return to the "womb." Who could blame her? Her world was crashing and the two people she loves most somehow can't be in the same place at the same time, other than for shared family events and short exchanges and drop-offs.
Asking to join myself to snuggle to sleep isn't a crime for any child, especially one enduring stress. If it would help her, why not pat the bed and welcome her in for a night or two a week?
Yet whenever I've even dropped a hint that my daughter has had access to my bed, I'm met with these responses:
"Now she'll always want to sleep in your bed!"
"You'll never get your bed back!"
"She's a big girl. She can sleep in her own bed."
"Really? In your bed?"
"We never let our kids do that. Oh no, no, no."
In my opinion, whether you let your kids sleep with you nightly or just sometimes like myself, it's not going to ruin your kids. When my daughter's 13, she won't be asking to sleep in my bed. When she's 18, I'll have to fight to be sure she's not in someone else's bed.
My girl will not want to be with me forever. Our children will not want to be with us forever. My daughter will spread her little sassy wings and fly away when the time comes.
And really, I'm alone as a single woman — is my daughter in my bed hurting that non-existent sex life of mine? And if I were to meet someone, I have quite some time before he meets her and stays over when she's home.
Oh, and news flash, Concerned Citizens: there are co-sleeping parents that have sex still ... I don't know how that is, as I've never done it, but they do.
Why is it such a crime to co-sleep and what makes other random people the experts on what will happen to my kid if she hops into my bed? Do these people think that these children turn into losers or serial killers because they slept in their parents' beds?
People have been doing this since the dawn of time. Other cultures co-sleep exclusively. We comfort our kids as parents, and our sleep environments should bring us comfort. Combine the two and voila — a stressed kid becomes a sleeping, happy kid.
Parents currently sleeping with your kids: Ignore the naysayers, and do what you want and feel comfortable with. Unless these strangers are hopping into bed with me, they can keep on rolling their eyes and huffing under their breath.
A Mom Whose Kid Takes Up Three-Quarters of the Bed
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.