Can’t get your head around co-sleeping? Join Lou as she pillow-fights her way around this hot topic.
Remember what you were like before children?
Remember the opinions that you had? So many opinions.
“I’m going to make all my own baby food. I’m never going to let her watch television. We’ll have a sanitary, calm environment at all times and I’ll never lose my temper”.
Meanwhile, two years later, you’re watching your child lay on your bed with your dog while they all share chicken nuggets and watch the fucking Twirlywoos on an iPad while you scrub shit stains off the carpet and scream at your husband about inconsiderately leaving your toothbrush one inch behind his in the bathroom (in what you have interpreted as an aggressive challenge).
One thing I definitely had an opinion about was co-sleeping. I’d heard a lot about the dangers of co-sleeping (which, like anything, can certainly be dangerous if not done in a considered and thoughtful manner) and could never see myself doing it. We were people who liked staying out late, crashing in bed and watching seasons of television in our underwear while eating KFC. How would a little dude in the bed work in that mix? I just didn’t get it at all.
Suffice to say, I get it now.
Our son was a really good sleeper (way better than I could admit to other mothers) up until we moved interstate just before he turned two. Since then, he’s spent some nights sleeping in his own bed but for the most part he comes in with us after about 11pm each night sharing our bed with us. We’ll hear a sad little request for the big bed and then he’s off and running, carrying an impressive amount of stuffed toys and dummies with him.
There’s a lot about it that I really love. I like having all of us together. Having him nuzzle into me and sleepily say, “Mummy cuddles”. He pats my hair in his sleep and often giggles while he’s dreaming. Lazy Sunday mornings when we all wake up together and tickle each other and roll around are memories that I will hang onto dearly for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of beauty in affection when the streets are still dreaming and night-time is confusing itself with early morning sunlight.
There are some aspects of bed-sharing that PISS ME THE HELL OFF and make me fantasise about packing my shit into the car and leaving for a new life where my name is Petunia and I make macramé clothes for small animals.
Small children seem to be able to spin around in complete circles like meaty little Wagon Wheels while remaining completely asleep. I’m sure that’s lovely for them but when you’re the stupid adult on the side getting repeatedly kicked in the kidneys it’s hard to be impressed with their midnight gymnastic routine. On one memorable occasion I was kicked so hard in the boob that I felt it temporarily migrate to my shoulder. I’ve had dead legs from being corked in the thigh by pointy little elbows and significant facial bruising from tiny fists of fury. I feel like I’m bed-sharing with Rhonda Rousey at this point and I am not winning this battle on points.
Speaking of battles, we need to talk about farting. I’ll be super honest with you and admit that I could talk about farts all day as they are, obviously, hilarious but the night-time farts are a completely different story. I’ll be finally, beautifully, drifting off to sleep as the boxing bout draws to a close only to be suddenly wrenched back into consciousness by a flurry of tooting. Wet, musical farts exit the anus of my angelic sleeping child with such ferocity that the neighbour’s dog starts barking. Farts that have no place in this bed. Farts that are not funny at all. Farts that could mean he is about to shit himself awake but could also mean I’m in for a long night of lying beside a small human trumpet with no ability (or desire) to control himself. It’s when there is a return fire on these farts from the other sleeping person in the bed that the real horror begins.
The affection that I mentioned before is wonderful. I sometimes think about how I felt before I had my beautiful family and marvel that I am so privileged to be surrounded by so much love. However, sometimes when my son is repeatedly stroking my face while he is asleep and pulling my hair into his love-hungry little fists I dream of a bed completely to myself. “Love you mummy, love you mummy, love you mummy, love you mummy” he drones like a sleeping little love robot and my face develops an irritated rash from constant pawing from his sweaty little mitts.
All things considered, though, I love our arrangement. It means when he has a bad dream or he is not feeling well that we’re not prolonging the agony by having midnight battles about bedrooms. It means that “going in the big bed” is a special place for him where he automatically feels safe and comforted and this is certainly works for our family at this time and in this place. If I knew then what I know now I never would have rubbished what has now become a beautiful part of our routine.
Next time someone with zero experience lets you know their staunch opinions on child-rearing, give them a smile from me and let them know that I hope they get kicked in the boob.