Sunday, April 17, 2011

Safe Place

When I was a kid, Mum and Dad's room was an OFF-LIMITS place. I can remember maybe two times I was allowed to lie in their bed. Granted, one of those times I raided the hidden stash of Halloween candy... but that's beside the point.

While I understood the idea of keeping the parent's room strictly for the parents, that was something Charlie and I could never put into practice as parents.

When Krys was 18 months old, she decided she was Too Big for a crib. We know this because she spent several nights screaming bloody murder, rocking her crib and generally having a huge meltdown at bedtime. On the third or fourth night, in an act of frustration, I took her out of her crib, tossed the crib mattress on the floor and said, "Fine!" Okay, I wasn't exactly mature at 20.

Krys looked at the mattress, climbed right on it and snuggled up. I tucked her in and all was well. Two nights later, Daddy had turned her standard crib into a convertible toddler daybed. Krys was content.

Within a week, we had a new routine. Charlie and I woke at 5:30 am. Just before he'd leave for work, I would braid his then very long hair. It was around this time that Krys would come toddling in the room, dragging Mr. Bear by an arm or leg to say goodbye to Daddy. For a couple of days, I tried to encourage my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed monkey back to her bed. Pbfft. Soon enough it became standard for her to climb in my bed and we'd snuggle and doze until 8, when I got up for the day.

In the years since, we have spent literally hundreds of nights sharing our bed with little ones. Nightmares, Night Terrors, fevers, stomach bugs and once in a while a case of full blown flu... If they didn't feel well, they came to sleep with Mommy and Daddy... an arrangement that almost always ended up with someone's little feet firmly planted in one parent's back.

It wasn't just kids coming to us for comfort either. After Daniel's drowning, I kept him in our bed for a full 6 months, while I was waking repeatedly each night to check he was still breathing. It was a hard thing to decide to put him back in his crib at night.

John had Pertussis when he was a newborn. Though he was fully recovered by 3 months old, I kept him in the bassinet at the foot of the bed for another 3 months. I couldn't bear putting him in another room. I had to be able to check that he was breathing.

Our kids have always known where to go when they need comfort or reassurance. Even my now adult kids, when ill, will gravitate to our bed for a nap.

I find such joy in this. It's a wonderful feeling to know that when all is not right in their worlds, the kids still know they can come to us for comfort and a sense of security. Our bed has been crowded at times... and these days, I often have to kick out one of the kids to get my nap... but I don't mind.

I just wish they made something bigger than a California King.