There are certain things about my kids that I begrudge now but that I’ll miss later on. I realize that, but then there are other activities that I will never ever remember fondly. Sleeping with my children is one of the latter I’m sure. Most nights one of my boys crawls into bed with me, my wife is in their bed with the other (to be fair, my wife has it a lot worse, but this is my story not hers). It’s ridiculous I know but them not sleeping on their own has been going on so long that it seems like it’s going to have to run its natural course.
In the meantime, I have fitful sleeps at least a few times a week. Both boys crowd me, pushing me to the very edge of the bed. Five-year-old B likes to throw his left leg over me. His elbows and knees are usually digging into my side or back. I throw him off only to wake with him attached to my side again. Two-year-old G is not big enough to put his leg over me but he can wrap his arms around and under my head as he did one recent night. I also woke at one point when his tiny fingers were digging into my eyes and nostrils.
Five years ago, we decided not to sleep train because we could not stand the sound of our baby crying. Now it’s come back to haunt us both. Perhaps it’s a small price to pay but at 2:30 am it sure seems like a big deal.
UPDATE: When I originally composed the previous three paragraphs on Thursday, I had no satisfactory ending and was unsure whether I’d publish them. Then came last night. Most every evening Mama lays down with the two boys around 7:30 and they fall asleep around 8. Around 8:30, however, there was still stirring upstairs, and then I heard Mama open the baby gate and trudge downstairs. Then came G: Mama, I wanna come down, followed by insults when she told him “no.”
I came out to the kitchen and whispered to Mama and G heard me. “Daddy, come get me. Daddy, come get me.” All I wanted to do was sit on the couch, eat popcorn, and watch football, so I fought the urge to go up and grab my baby and jumped in the shower instead. When I got out and got dressed he was still upstairs asking to come down and then he deciphered my footsteps. “Daddy, come get me.”
I tried to resist but the little voice was so sad. I knew it would ruin my night and that it’d probably be better for him to just stay up there and eventually go to sleep on his own but I am a softie, always have been, and my two boys know this, that I am a sucker for them. One more plea from G and I looked at my wife who told me I could go get him but that she didn’t want anything to do with it.
So I went upstairs and grabbed him and took him in the TV room. For the next hour-and-a-half, I fetched G water and milk and popcorn, trying to keep him from spilling all three. He never sat still and talked my ear off: how he wanted to watch Power Rangers, what color of popsicle he would eat tomorrow, where was Mama, and on and on until his mother mercifully came in around ten and took him upstairs.
He eventually fell asleep in my bed where I joined him an hour later. After staying up for so long, G was so tired that he was like a dead weight in the middle of the bed with little of the usual harassment of me. I guess that was one upside of bringing him down.
Four years ago, when I decided to stay home with my first son, I had no idea I was part of a trend of more and more fathers who were letting their partners re-enter the workforce–defying hundreds of years of practice. For us, it was just the result of a simple reality. My wife made more money than me and I’d rather not have a stranger raise my kids. It seemed like simple logic.
When I started this blog back in September, it was at the urging of others, people around me who said I should document my time as a stay-at-home dad. I didn’t know that there were so many parents already doing it, and doing it more thoroughly and quite frankly better. Still, I plan to keep blogging about my experiences with my two kids for at least another year. At the least, I think my two boys will enjoy reading about their crazy father when they’re older, possibly even using them as a resource when they have their own children.
And until the most recent issue of Time magazine, I had no idea my wife and I were practicing attachment parenthood. We breastfeed–and will for as long as baby G wants–let our children sleep in bed with us, and overall have reoriented our entire lives for our kids. I never conceived that we were following a trend. I just thought we were being lax. Good to know.