Many people strongly consider co-sleeping with their kids before they actually have any. They imagine curling around a tiny cocoon of love, taking sweet sips of delectable baby head smell in the quiet of night, strengthening the bond between them and their offspring while their dreams tangle in the air above them among the stars. What they don’t realize is what it’s really like; that pretty soon those babies will become unswaddled kicking machines. Imagine large, violent barnacles that excessively drool and can b*tch-slap with unforeseen strength: how much do you want an all-night snuggle now, my friends?
Even if you take a firm stand against sharing a bed with your littles, eventually the time will come when you simply cannot avoid it. One night you will open your eyes thinking the girl from The Ring is creepily crawling out of your TV to getchu, only to realize your beloved child has had a bad dream or spiked a fever and neeeeeeeds you to sleep with her in her bed pleeeeease? So you crawl out of your perfect warm spot, take her hand, and let her escort you into her room.
Despite being a fairly compact human being, your child will require 65 perfect of the square footage of her bed all to herself. Another 30 percent belongs to her vast array of stuffed BFFs — all carefully placed around her in positions that cannot be modified for any reason, so enjoy your 5 percent! And try not to accidentally topple the wall of toys precariously balanced behind your head, okay? (Yes, there will be a lecture about the toys she sleeps with before either of you lay down: prepare yourself.)
Comfortably settled in and knowing Mom is by her side, your kid will achieve REM within moments of her head hitting the pillow. You, on the other hand, will stare through the static-like darkness at her puppy posters on the wall opposite you, wondering how anyone can sleep with all those giant, wet eyes on them. And what the hell is that buzzing noise coming from? The toy box? One of the dozen nightlights?
Once you do fall asleep, within minutes you will be punched in the larynx as she turns to her other side, swinging fists around without a care in the world. Oh, this won’t wake her up. Don’t be silly! I do hope the feeling of deep regret can keep you warm, because she also stole all the blankets when she rolled over. And don’t even think about sneaking out to grab a blanket from the hall closet: even the slightest creak of your footsteps on the floor will snap her awake, heartbroken at the sight of her mother trying to escape a child in need. OH THE HUMANITY.
While you watch your darling snooze in her nest of fluffy cartoon-themed blankets, you’ll have to crack your neck at least a dozen times, cursing out the flimsy pillow that normally is used by the three-foot-long pink daschund that lives on that side of the bed. Just when your lids begin to fall, a claw of tiny fingers will curl around your wrist, pulling it into the nest to ensure you don’t slip away. Lacking the energy to chew your own arm off, you give in and pass out once more.
Soon the scent of soiled hay and rotting pears blowing in a hot wind will drag you from your dreams, making you aware that your daughter has managed to move herself even closer to you, and is sleeping with her mouth wide open and inches from your nose. You crack your neck — again — and rub the crick in your shoulder, carefully shifting away from your adorable but pungent mouth-breather. A thick felt snake your kid sewed last summer tumbles from the fray of its friends, scaring you half to death, but as you move to toss it over the side of the bed you realize it’s quite ergonomically shaped, and tuck it under your neck as a pillow, instead.
Over the next few hours, you will repeat a pattern of bites of restless slumber followed by waking to some violent act committed against you by the thrashing of your dead-asleep child, cracking your neck, wishing you had worn your robe to bed so you’d at least have something to cover you, then passing out again, somehow becoming more and more tired each time you open your eyes. Just as the sun begins to take its first peek over the horizon, shifting the sky from the ink of night to the purple blush of dawn’s first blinks, your daughter will body-slam you awake, all perky and delighted to have you spend the night in her bed. To celebrate, she’ll want breakfast right now, so come on, Mom!
And if think that it’s over, you’ve never felt the after effects of “sleeping” in your kid’s bed. It’s the worst hangover of your life, and there’s a good chance that you won’t even have taken your first blessed sip of coffee before she’s telling you how much fun she had, and is wondering if you can do it again tonight.
(Um, yeah. That’d be a hard pass, but thanks for the offer, kid.)
So before you whisper any promises to your babies about always being there for them, any time day or night, you might want to add in a clause about how what you really mean is you will be by their side whenever they need you, but not, like, literally beside them between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., because sleeping in your own bed with nobody kicking you in the small intestine is a beautiful thing, indeed.