Dear Mushroom and BalletBoy,
From the moment you were born, you did not want to sleep away from us. You needed touch to rest. Not just touch, but when you were small, it was often a fight between you to get all the way on top of me and lay chest to chest. Mostly though, you didn’t sleep. You were both tired babies. We tried putting you in your crib. We tried putting you in separate cribs, but you were clearly destined for the family bed. We expanded and bought the largest, least bouncy bed we could find in the hopes of helping us rest. It didn’t really help, and I cursed my lack of sleep and sometimes I cursed the two of you, awake at all hours, needy and fussy. Every mother would ask, “Do they sleep?” when you were small. Oh, the competition and feeling of inadequacy when I admitted you didn’t. People finally stopped asking around the time you turned one. That was a small relief considering you still weren’t sleeping much.
But then, just before you turned 3, it got better. You still needed to be in the big bed, snuggling, but we all worked out how to sleep together. There were snuggles as you fell asleep and snuggles in the middle of the night if you stirred. Your favorite position was to rest with your head on my shoulder and your arm draped across me, or even your legs wrapped around my hip, hugging me with your whole body.
You grew bigger. Bedtime stories were no longer Goodnight Moon and Knuffle Bunny but The Wizard of Oz and Charlotte’s Web. You stopped needing us to run your bath and lay out your clothes. You put the toothpaste on yourself and drew your own baths. But still you slept in our bed. When I came to sleep, I often had to separate the two of you, splayed across the bed, using each other as pillows and sleeping at odd angles.
But then I decided. I was ready. You are old enough. I’ll miss the snuggles that happen in the night, but there’s a new bed in the back room and we’re clearing our stuff out of the side room. You have your own spaces and we’re ready for you to use them. Not only that, but you’re ready. When I mentioned that going to bed in one’s own bed means reading your own books and turning out your own light, you both lit up, happy at the independence and reveling in the joy of knowing how to read enough to read alone.
So tonight is the night. Sleep tight.