Monday, June 1, 2009

Funny How Things Go

We stood on the front porch of our house, the morning summer sun shining in our eyes. My grandmother was there to mark the occasion. It was my first day of kindergarten. The camera came out and pictures were taken to remember the "big girl's" first day of school. I was the happiest, proudest kid around.

I didn't know it then, but we were standing on a precipice.

In a matter of weeks, my parents would separate. My sister and I would leave with our mother for a new life in another town. I can't say that those days were easy for any of us. The transition to divorced is rarely smooth. Even the word is ugly in my mouth. It is bitter and grisly.

There is a long, unpleasant story that follows all of that. Fights and tears. Relationships that will never be what they might have been. There are wounds that will never heal. But much of that story is not mine to tell and I have no desire to draw blood in this way.

For a long time, it was just the three of us. My mom christened us The Butts Sisters, in part because of a familial tendency towards prominent posteriors, as yet unfulfilled in the younger members of the group,* and part because at night the three of us would snuggle into bed together, rubbing our little butts together.

Mostly, my sister and I would take turns sleeping with our mom. She didn't have a big bed and one young girl sleeping with her was likely as much as could be tolerated. But it was not unusual that the girl whose night it was to sleep alone somehow found her way into the big bed. Snuggling up with my sister and mother brought me a comfort and belonging that I can't describe.

When she was a newborn, Sophie slept in a co-sleeper bassinet attached to our bed. Occasionally I would bring her in to our bed next to me, but I was generally too afraid of rolling onto her or smothering her, so she spent most nights in her own little space. We have tried a few times since those early days to have her sleep with us, but every time was a failure. She wriggled around like a fish out of water, all arms and legs in tender spots.

However, while she has been sick this past week, I have brought Sophie in to sleep with me almost every night. At first, it was awkward, we didn't know how to sleep around each other. She couldn't find just the right nook to curl into and I couldn't figure out how to cuddle her without putting at least one limb painfully to sleep. But after a few nights, a rhythm was established. She found her spot and I discovered an addiction to laying next to my sleeping daughter.

All these years, I thought my mom had allowed us to sleep with her. That she was just doing the motherly duty and comforting us when we were scared or lonely. It didn't really occur to me that there was happiness to be found on the other end. The tunnel vision of children, even grown ones, I suppose.

It's funny how your perceptions change when you become a parent. How the things that seemed one way were, in fact, very different. While these past days with my sick child have been rough, let there be no confusion on one fact. I get every bit as much out of our snuggle times as my daughter, maybe more.

*Don't worry, time would prove the nickname very appropriate in my case, far less so in my skinny sister.


  1. My oldest slept with us quite a bit as a baby... it was so hard getting her to sleep in her own crib/bed from about age 12 months to 18 months. So when I had girl #2, I swore she would not sleep in our bed! And she didn't... well, not like her sister did, anyway.

    But now... they're ages 6 and 8... and I still like to cuddle with them in the bed or on the sofa, every now and then.

    When they let me.

  2. Although there are exasperated times where I have a foot in my nostril or waaay to many bodies in my bed for comfort....for the most part, I love the kids in bed with us.
    They each have come to bed with us as they have needed and at some age "grew up too much" to where they do not come any more. Of course Tatum and Jake's years are long gone (although some morning's before school, Jake still hops under the covers for a quick warm up of love), and Matthew is only around during the thunderstorms and nightmares, but Summer has a pretty permanant nook in our bed that in the middle of the night she will call out to us, and we will somehow manuever in the dark on half awakeness to her and sleep the rest of the night with her.
    On nights she does not come, I miss her. I actually MISS her, and go get her for a morning snuggle.

    That is some good stuff;)

  3. What a beautiful post. Very touching. I slept with my oldest son until the day my second was born. He slept in the co-sleeper in our bed until he outgrew it, and then he went to his crib, but I was sad so we put a floor mattress in his room where I slept. Most nights, he would wake up and we'd sleep together on the mattress or back in my bed. When my second was born, he slept in the co-sleeper, and when he outgrew it, his crib. Usually at 1 a.m. he wakes up and I bring him into my bed. I actually wait up for that time... I'm not really able to fall asleep before then. I love sleeping beside him, it's the best thing ever. And I still put my oldest to bed and lie down with him as often as I can. Nothing sweeter than sleeping with your babies!

  4. Awww...that is beautiful. When my husband is out of town, my youngest will sometimes end up sleeping in my bed with me, and I think it's more of a comfort to me than it is to her. I say just enjoy it--she'll be off to college, like tomorrow practically!

    PS I have a butt too. :)

  5. What a great post, Cara. I cannot tell you how many revelations and light bulbs have occured since I became a parent. There is so much on the other end that just doesn't make sense until you are the one being mom. I apologize to my mom all the time now. I see so much of me in my son. Now I really know what my mom went through.

    My favorite time to have the kids come in and sleep in our bed is Saturday mornings. I just love to envelope them in covers and arms and just snuggle. It's the ultimate joy!

  6. When my first came home from the hospital, she was put in her crib. But shortly I made my husband go and get her. I just couldn't handle the seperation. Well. That lasted all of five minutes after listening to her snuffle. And the heat that just radiated from her made me so uncomfortable.

    My youngest likes to get in bed with me every morning. It's so part of her routine...and I love those snuggles...

  7. So sweet.

    I'd love to sleep with my three-year-old but he is borderline VIOLENT in his sleep. rolls and kicks all night.

  8. It is so sweet that you have those memories of bed-sharing with your mom. I am sure that with the pain of her marriage falling apart, it was such a boon to have the love of her two daughters so close to her.

    I think it's great that you & Sophie are figuring out how to nap together, since she has been kind of a handful for you lately. I love waking up to and smiling at Maia, so she smiles back at me... so special!

  9. You know it's helping her to feel better, too.

  10. What a sweet post! I'm glad you are enjoying snuggling with Sophie.

    Little J won't let me snuggle him in his sleep anymore {yes I used to sneak into his bed before I went to sleep for a little cuddle}.
    He's like me unfortunately and wants his space when sleeping.

    It must be hereditary because we never slept with our parents, ever.

  11. I understand this. When Hayden was a baby, I would take him after his 4am feeding back into bed with me. We would sleep together. It was just so wonderful to feel him that closely to me again. It reminded me of being pregnant, feeling that newborn right next to my heart. It was heaven.
    The thing that makes me sad is that I could not do this with the babies. For obvious reasons, there was just to many of them.
    I cherish that memory with Hayden. I just wish that I had it with all my kids.

  12. So sweet. I would love to sleep with my girls but Ash is not a snuggler at ALL and Adyson is violent in her sleep! I slept with her will were on vacation and I still have bruises. I hope she is better soon.

  13. I am sorry she is sick! Better now, I hope?

    I admit it....I looooove sleeping with my boys and if my husband didn't put a stop to it, I would still let them crawl into bed with me.

  14. It's a rare morning that I wake up without a small person in my bed. It won't last forever, though. Already, Justin is only an occasional snuggler and Evan is beginning to need more space than my sliver of bed will allow (as Corinne is ALWAYS there.)

    I will miss them when they no longer search for me in the night...

  15. That's so sweet. I can remember sleeping with my Mom once or twice.

    My sister and I had to sleep together all the time on vacation. It was not fun.

  16. It's so true. Mitchell and Kat still ask me to snuggle them and I know there will come a day when they don't ask...and the thought makes me sad.

  17. I've never let my kids sleep in my bed unless they were sick. On the other hand, I would...if they had issues, climb into their bed and make an exit when they fell asleep. Quietly. But I do understand your needs and this is a really beautiful post Cara...and the way you tied it in with your story of you as a little girl is soooo touching and warm. I got a tear. Very nice post. Very nice.

  18. Thanks for the beautiful post. There are moments every morning when all four of us are in the same bed. Sometimes the boys are sleeping, sometimes giggling and crawling all over each other and us . . . I know I will miss those moments years from now and I try to cherish them.

  19. What a beautiful story! You're such a dedicated mama.

    We got a cosleeper to try out with this second baby. I didn't know anything about cosleeping or attachment parenting with our first.

  20. I enjoyed reading this. This was sweet. I am glad you could really soak up the experience of co-sleeping and write about it. Even with a sicky babe, it's so nice to be paying attention to the little moments.

    I think we all worry about smothering our newborns, probably unnecessarily.

  21. Divorce is a hard one. I also don't share a lot of the stories that aren't mine alone to share – I understand.

    I think I've let my boys sleep with me far more than I ever would have had I not had the same experience of complete comfort in sleeping with my mom. I don't usually sleep well, but I do understand how comforting it is.

  22. i adore this post!
    my son slept with us until he was six (no joke) my daughter slept in her crib until we moved - (she was 16 months old) and then she refused to sleep in her crib any longer and wouldn't sleep in the toddler bed. She slept with us (and he as well) until she was 3 or so. She still comes in most nights but will start out in her own bed. My third child, still sleeping with me.

    I have had a baby / child sleeping with me for almost 8 years now - I don't know what I will do when no one is sleeping with me any longer???

  23. What a great post. I love the snuggling. Like you I had a cosleeper and was afraid to rest my son in the bed with me for fear of someone rolling over on him. I remedied that by letting him sleep on me. Not so good for my back because I slept sitting up - but he seemed to enjoy it. Or he would lay in the crook of my arm on top of a pillow. Now that he is older he occasionally sleeps with me but his arms and legs usually end up in the craziest places so we don't do it too often.


Give me some sugar, baby!