Anytime between 2:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., every night, my dear son comes into our bedroom, always to my side of the bed, usually with his Tigger, four more stuffed animals he goes to bed with, and sometimes his pillow. He comes with the total confidence that he will be sleeping with mommy and daddy for the rest of the night. And yes, 99 percent of the time, he does.
Let me explain. When I was expecting Hannah, it never crossed my mind that my children would be sleeping with us. This was not something I contemplated deeply, did an in depth study of, or even frowned upon. I just never thought much about it, period. I was surrounded by people at work and even most of my friends and relatives who just didn't do this. When I thought anything of it at all, it was basically that yeah, sure, my kids will sleep in their cribs, in their rooms, because isn't this just where babies slept, after all?
One of my biggest influences when Hannah was a baby was my dear friend, Chantal. She found out she was expecting her first baby right after Hannah was born, and after extensive research she had formed some very strong opinions about pregnancy, child birth, nursing, etc., and one of them was keeping your baby in your own bed. One of the points she made that had the biggest impact on me was that in almost every continent on the face of the earth except North America, mothers did NOT believe in separating themselves from their young right after birth. Think about this. Your baby is living inside your belly for nine months, is warm and secure, close to your heartbeat, and suddenly upon birth we want to keep them as far away as possible? Does this make sense? Even animals' instincts are contrary to western society. Observe your pets and their young. Now, I never did any of this research myself, but I will admit this hit a very strong chord in me and after that I became a believer in NOT separating myself from my newborns. Thankfully, I had a husband who was supportive in this as well. So, for the first year or so of Hannah's life, she slept with us at night. This ended when she stopped nursing in the night, which, yes, could have stopped sooner than a year, but that topic is for another day.
Having Hannah sleep through the night in her own crib at night was a battle, yes, but being our only child at the time, it was a battle we won after a few nights. And so it is today. Hannah sleeps in her bed all night long (except when she is sick, of course).
Now for Seth. He is a cat of a different stripe. Seth thinks every human function is meant to be a "social" event. He does not like eating alone. He does not like going to the bathroom alone. So, it stands to reason that sleeping alone just won't do. Add to this the fact that he is a cuddler. Now, lest anyone is too troubled, this battle has been fought numerous times and won - for a season. Dave and I have taken turns marching Seth back to his room and then sitting beside his bed until he fell asleep. This was not without the usual boo-hoos and singsong, sometimes waking up his sister, and sometimes more than once in the night, but eventually after a few days he would be sleeping through the night in his own bed - only to start up again a few weeks later. Usually it starts up on a night when I am too tired to care and give in. There have even been times when I did not remember letting him get in with us. And then for a while I would let him lie beside me and if I didn't fall asleep too quickly, take him back to his room after he fell back asleep. This would be the routine for the next several days/weeks. Eventually he would be with us for the rest of the night. Which is where it's at now.
I have been thinking lately on why I've let this carry on so long. After all, he will be four soon and it's not like I prefer him to be with us. He HOGS my pillow. And then it struck me: I believe it's because he has total confidence in his mission. Even after he's lost the battle for a while, he knows that eventually he will win again. And for me, I think this is one of the reasons I have such a hard time saying no. Think about it. It's like making a request to God with total confidence and faith. How good are our chances that God will answer our request when we have this faith? When I see my happy boy in the night, reaching up to me in confidence because "he just wants to snuggle", how can I possibly say no?
How long will I let this go on? I don't know at this point. I do not believe, however, that this will permanently mar him in adulthood. If I did it wouldn't be happening. I believe that other than not getting quite as good of a sleep, nothing else is lost in the long run. Now, if he's 15 and still with us.........just kidding.
Let's just say, in choosing our battles as parents, this doesn't rate very high on my list at this time. It will in the future, yes, but not now.
You might think differently.....