When Michael began walking, he started following David around. This was great because I was able to do some things without touching Michael, or should I say without Michael touching me. Michael was quite attached to David and I welcomed the small breaks it gave me. Sometimes Michael would even sleep with his brother for short periods of time.
Most nights David was sleeping in his bed and Michael was sleeping with us. Michael continued to nurse until he was almost 3 and while he was nursing, I didn’t try to get him to sleep in his own bed. When he finally weaned, Chris and I tried to get him to sleep with David (who was 5). Most of the time it worked well, but sometimes on school nights (David was in kindergarten) Michael was difficult and ended up in our bed.
At some point, David S decided that he wanted his own bed and moved to the top bunk. Michael stayed on the bottom bunk and was sleeping in his bed most nights. He was weaned, but he was still rubbing my arm. This was something that he started when I would ask him to wait to nurse (after he was a year old) he would rub my arm from my elbow to wrist over and over again. I don’t know when he started it and I don’t remember when he stopped. Although, I do remember that it became annoying and I was touched-out.
The reason that I am writing this is that, even at 13 and almost 11 the boys still find their way into our bed. Michael sleeps with us more frequently, but occasionally David ends up in our bed. That is what happened the other night. Chris had to work overnight – they were moving computers or something and needed to do it after business hours. David goes to bed earlier than Michael because he needs to get up almost 2 hours before Michael does. Since they share a room, Michael usually reads in our bed from the time that David goes to bed until his bedtime. But the other night, I was exhausted. I got into bed while Michael was still reading in my room. From there, it seemed natural that he would scoot over and snuggle. And of course, we fell asleep. Kirby was sleeping up against my back and Sugar was sleeping at the bottom of the bed. Michael isn’t usually fun to sleep with; he ends up lying cross-ways on the bed, he kicks, flings arms out, steals covers and other terrible things while he is sleeping.
At some point I realized that David had come to get into bed with us. I remember telling him to get his own pillows (he’s fighting a cold and with Chris’ cancer . . .). So, all three of us were in my bed. And the dogs. None of us slept well. The dogs kept waiting for Chris (he got home at 4:30 am and slept on the couch). Michael got up at 2:30 am to go to the bathroom and decided to go to his own bed. David was tossing and turning and me, well, I was being bombarded by flying Michael parts and hearing David cough and the dogs bark. It wasn’t a good night.
The thing is that I strongly feel that the boys should be comfortable coming to our bed. Yes, it is a little weird to have David in bed with me – he is taller than me – but I am glad that he still feels that he can come to me to be comforted. Michael, well, when Michael has a night terror (which hasn’t happened in a LONG time), Chris and I found that the best thing was to have him go to the bathroom and then get in bed with me. It calms him the quickest so that all of us can go back to sleep.
When Michael first started having night terrors, he was 5 and Chris lived in Colorado while the boys and I were still in Illinois. I was working part-time and our house was on the market and I was single parenting. Sleep was important. Michael would be distressed and frantic and the thing that soothed him the quickest was to put him in bed with me. It was necessary as he was having night terrors 3-4 times a week. And I just couldn’t manage. So, we did what worked.
While writing this blog, I’ve been thinking why this is so important to me: having the boys be able to come to my bed. I remember being anxious as a child. Very anxious. And I didn’t think that I could share my anxiety and fears with my parents. I didn’t think that they would understand. Maybe they would have, but somehow I knew at a young age, that I shouldn’t talk about my repetitive thoughts. You know the story about Bloody Mary coming through the mirror if you said her name 3 times in a row? Well, I would get stuck on it and say it over and over and over in my mind. It scared me. It scared me so much that I was often afraid of opening my eyes and I was afraid of going to sleep.
My parents didn’t know. (I guess they do now since they usually read my blog.) It really was something that I felt would be considered “silly” and that I would be thought of as a “baby” because of it. But it dominated my thoughts at bedtime for years. As an adult, I know that this was a battle I was having, not with Bloody Mary (I knew she didn’t exist), but with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Going to my parents’ bed wouldn’t have solved the issue, but it would have made me feel less alone.
I don’t want the boys to ever feel alone. As a result, I sometimes get tapped on the shoulder in the middle of the night and then move over so someone can climb into bed with me. I imagine that there are worse things in the world than losing a bit of sleep to make sure that the boys feel loved and safe.
I’ll talk about Attachment Parenting in Part 3.