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My best friend warned me a few years ago of the perils of letting your child sleep with you. She was in the thick of it herself with her eldest daughter, who was almost 7-years-old at the time, when she looked me dead in my eyes and said in a stern voice, “Get her out of your bed now, trust me.” I laughed a little, “Really? It can’t be that bad…” Her daughter became accustomed to sleeping in her parents’ bed, demanding that mom lay face-to-face with her through the night. My best friend’s husband chimed in, “You’ll be paying for it for way longer than you think.”
Yes, my 6-year-old daughter finds her way into my bed…most nights. As silly as it sounds in retrospect, I didn’t believe the transition of her sleeping with me to sleeping alone would be so rough. Plus, as a single mom (and as embarrassing as it is to admit) it was nice to have my baby near me at night. On top of that, I had serious reasons for keeping her close. Ten days before my daughter’s second birthday she had her first febrile seizure. Brought on by sudden spikes in body temperature, usually at the on-set of the flu or other sickness, the seizures were random and scary. Over almost three years, she would have a total of six seizures, most of which required an ambulance and hospital stay, so I felt the need to have an eye on her, especially while she slept.
Cold and flu season? Forget about it, I was the mom who was angry with parents who sent their little ones to school with runny noses, coughs and germs. Health wise, this was a very difficult period for us, but thank God it ended (and I’ll explain in a future article more detail about the seizures), but it was also a time that conditioned my daughter to sleeping with me.
Now that my daughter is healthier physically, I must confess that her creeping into my bed is exhausting, and I would hate for this bedtime scenario to affect her coping skills, her confidence or affect her in any other way later on. Am I alone in this struggle? I know I’m not. I’ve been reading parenting blogs for years with moms and dads revealing their unusual sleeping arrangements, and I have other parent friends whose kids sleep with them—especially those who are single and/or divorced. Just a few weeks ago the Motherlode blog in the New York Times, featured an article about a mom who has once-a-week “sleepovers” with her 9-year-old daughter.
I’m taking the weight of this sleep issue, I’m an educated woman and I know darn well that a first grader sleeping with her mom is not a great idea. Every family is unique and Heck, even my daughter, as happy and well-adjusted as she is, knows it’s not cool and she wants to be a “big girl” and sleep solo all night. But I also know it’s just the two of us right now, and one day, probably sooner than I realize; she’ll want me to give her space.
So now we’re working on the transition back to her room and bed diligently. Instead of me giving in and letting her come into my bed when she wakes at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., I go into her room and sit with her until she falls back asleep. Novel idea, right? She’ll always be my sweet pea, and while an occasional mommy and daughter cuddle night is fine, at four-feet-tall of elbows, long legs and knees, I think it’s healthier, and in both of our best interests that she’s no longer my co-sleeper.
Kweli I. Wright is an entertainment and lifestyle editor and writer. A mom to a fierce and fancy little girl, she juggles career and mommyhood and spends her spare time as interior decorator, That Home Girl. A native New Yorker, she makes her home in Staten Island. Follow Kweli on Twitter and check out her websites: www.Kweliwright.com and www.ThatHomeGirl.com