I’m going to say something that’s going to upset some people: I let my 9-year-old son — and my 6-year-old son, for that matter — sleep in bed with us. We didn’t intentionally start co-sleeping, and what we do isn’t really co-sleeping, anyway, but that’s what it’s come to. To be clear, both of my children have their own, very comfortable beds in their own rooms. But somewhere along the way they just found their way into our bed. And they’ve stayed there.
Honestly, I’m less concerned about my 6-year-old. He easily goes to sleep in his own bed and comes into our room when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He falls right back asleep, but not before snuggling right into one of us. It’s cozy and easy.
My 9-year-old, on the other hand, has basically moved into our bedroom in the last two years. The pandemic has done nothing good for his anxiety; he likes his bed, he likes his room, he just finds great comfort sharing a bed with us. He happily goes to sleep in our bed, using my silk pillowcase more often than I do. He’s needed us in the night more than his brother.
Here’s the real kicker: My 9-year-old is kind of a bro. Yes, at 9. I’m sure you have one, too. He doesn’t really give me hugs, or kisses, or general affection on a daily basis. But! When I get him in our bed, he’s snuggly as can be. He nestles right on up to us — yes, sometimes he takes up half the bed — and doesn’t mind if I quasi-spoon him. I get to watch him sleep, which admittedly sounds creepy, but when you have a kid who won’t let you hug him, it’s nice to get up close with your first born once in a while. In short, he’s delectable overnight.
So what if I want to savor those moments? We all know they’re fleeting anyway. In a recent car trip, my 9-year-old put his new headphones on, blocking out the noise of the rest of us. I vividly remember the first time I put my own ear phones on: I put Color Me Badd into the Walkman and thought I was the coolest thing in the world. I know he felt the same way in that moment, and I was happy for him, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t miss him singing (terribly, I might add) along with the rest of the family on that car ride.
Sure, I haven’t slept well in years, but I haven’t really slept well since being pregnant 10 years ago, so who cares. Sure, my back is contorted in all kinds of directions when I wake up, mostly to carve out space for my 4’ 9” kid. Sure, I find myself half-off the bed some nights. Sure, I know that he’s likely using sleeping with us as a salve for his overdrive anxiety.
But I also know all too well that these are the moments I will remember, even if I’m too bleary eyed to really recall many of these days. Truth is, when he’s asleep, he looks eerily like he did when he was two, and four, and seven. I enjoy the tiny flashbacks, the trips down memory lane to younger years every night. I adore waking up next to him, and will allow it to continue as long as he needs it. Deal.