I slept with my mother when I was a kid and I have a motherhood confession: There is a child (or two or three) sleeping in my bed more nights than not.
With four total, and all of them still relatively young enough to wake up in the middle of the night sick or scared or wet or thirsty or just alone, it’s a nightly event that at least one — and sometimes more — pads into my room, holding a blanket or a stuffed something that has seen better days.
I roll over and look at the clock and inevitably there’s a moment when my stomach sinks at the math of how much more sleep I just might get if I am lucky, but still, I always make some space for them.
Yes, I Slept With My Mother…and Now My Kids Break That “Rule” Too
I know it’s a controversial subject, and I know (and respect) that it’s not for everyone. I know the parenting magazines would probably frown upon it. Perhaps more importantly, at least to me, I also know the lack of sleep has likely taken years off my life or at the very least made me look like it has.
And yes, I’ve read the sleep-training books and talked to the doctors and let myself fantasize about what it would be like to just once sleep wholly through the night and let me tell you: The prospect is absolutely lovely.
But I feel like this is something I need to do, and there is a good reason. It’s this:
When I was 16, I stopped eating.
It wasn’t that simple, and it wasn’t all at once like that or even a conscious decision, not at first. But I was no longer a kid, and I and my life were both getting big fast and I knew I needed to do something to try to make us small again because the bigness felt too new, and frankly, a little bit scary.
But as these things do, pretty soon the not-eating thing got too big, bigger than I anything could handle myself. I lost more weight than I ever meant to, although somehow it still wasn’t enough, and the anxiety problem that had been a manageable hum in the background of my life became a loud and constant scream that I couldn’t ignore.
Nighttime was the worst, and then I stopped sleeping. I would toss and turn for hours, trying to convince myself I wasn’t hungry and I wasn’t sick and I wasn’t falling quickly into a hole that was too big for me to pull myself out of alone.