I am so proud of Mia. Last night she slept the WHOLE night in her own bed. The whole night in her own room.
I have a bit of a confession to make here. It’s something I rarely talk about. It’s something most people don’t know. And I guess the reason for that would have to be because it’s a touchy subject. It’s one of those things that most people feel strongly opinionated about – not many people have a blasé attitude about it. This is the secret. This is my confession…
We are co-sleepers. Mia has slept in bed with Roger and I since the age of about three and a half. There it is. I said it. It’s out.
I know what you’re thinking – why start at the age of three and a half? Well, I guess there are a few reasons, the main of which being that up until that point Roger and I had shared a room with Mia. Her crib positioned right next to our bed. When Mia turned three Roger and I moved into a two bedroom apartment and Mia finally got her own room. For the first few months Mia slept in there. She slept well and I didn’t. I’d wake up constantly to check that the baby monitor was working. I’d go into her room to see if she was still breathing. If she happened to awake during the night instead of putting her back to sleep and carrying her back into her room I would let her climb in bed with us. I was scared for Mia. I wanted her close. Maybe I just plain missed her.
And that is where it all began.
Mia has always had a number of sleeping issues – falling asleep and staying asleep. Putting her to bed became a constant battle. Laying in bed at night with her for over an hour in pitch darkness praying for sleep to come I’d dream up ways to eradicate my problem. We finally decided to just let her fall asleep at her own leisure in our bed. When Mia finally fell asleep we didn’t bother moving her. I know the solution we came up with wasn’t the best, or even a good approach to her sleeping issues, but hindsight is always 20/20.
There are a few reasons why we continued this practice for so long. The first, and foremost, would have to be because change is hard and doing nothing, well, it isn’t. But, there were other reasons too. Mia sometimes has a hard time sleeping through the night. This happens often enough and when it does Mia does NOT go back to sleep; once her eyes open it is morning for her, no matter what the time. It was just easier for me to allow her to go to sleep in my room and if by chance she awoke in the middle of the night I could easily turn the TV on for her and let her watch something while I quietly slept next to her – or, half slept, a mother NEVER really, fully sleeps. I know you’re probably thinking, “Why couldn’t she just walk from her room to yours, get in bed with you and watch TV?” The answer is simple. Once her feet hit the floor she is NOT going to lay back down unless I force the issue, and up until recently I coveted sleep more than I did an empty bed and a fight.
As time went on Mia grew, as most children do, and our bed became cramped. We realized something needed to be done, and soon, before the sleeping arrangement became awkward. Yes, awkward. Awkward because there just isn’t enough room – a queen sized bed really wasn’t meant for three people. And awkward because Mia isn’t getting any younger and we will inevitably wake up one morning lying next to our fifteen year old daughter asking where our lives went, and more importantly, our bed.
There was one other major factor that made us want to move Mia into her own bed and it wasn’t for our own comfortability – believe me when I tell you we would have went on this way forever if we thought it would be beneficial to Mia. We realized that Mia, like any child, or maybe even more than any child, needs to feel accomplished. She needs to feel independent. She needs to feel autonomous and self-sufficient. Sleeping in her own bed at night is a great place to start. It’s a great way for her to feel capable, without much help from us save the bedtime stories we read her. It’s good for her self-esteem.
And so, Roger and I mapped out a complete remodeling of her bedroom. We knew there could be no other way to get her in there without this. We needed to make it into somewhere new. We needed to make it into somewhere fun. We needed to make it into a sleepy sanctuary. We had tried about two months ago to get her to in her bed and she told Roger, quite frankly, “No!” And back into our bed she went, five minutes later. That isn’t to say we thought that reconstructing her room would be the answer. Actually, we were pretty sure that we would be trucking back and forth into her room, or at the very least, one of us would be sleeping in there for awhile until she was comfortable enough to stick it out on her own.
I thought when the time came for us to put her to bed I would feel horrible. I thought I would feel as if I had abandoned her. But once again she surprised me. She loved her new room so much that she wanted to go to sleep in there – tucking herself in under the covers while Roger sat next to her reading. It was amazing. I won’t lie, I secretly cried a bit – not out of guilt but out of a bittersweet happiness. The happiness because my daughter is growing up, the bittersweet-ness because I’m not sure I like it.
As I write these words Mia is happily (for the moment) sleeping in her bed. She did momentarily try to join me in mine but it was easy enough to redirect her to her room. I think I will go peek at her, ya know, to see if she is breathing.