I know, I know. I thought the same thing before I had children. You know, back when I knew everything about parenting? Back when the children would, without fail, respect the sanctity of our bedroom. They would knock on the door before entering our bedroom. They would never, ever sleep in our bed.
Then we had children. And we stuck to our perfect parenting ways the best we could. Robert always started in his bed. Occasionally, he would come down in the middle of the night, but he rarely woke us up when he came in. He stopped doing that about the same time that Alexander started.
Fast forward two years, and here we are. I’m not sure how it happened, but, at some point, we grew tired of fighting the tears and begging when we tried to sneak out of the boys’ room. Yes, I know. If you keep doing it, they will adjust. You must be strong. You make the rules, not the children. Remember? I was the perfect parent before I had kids. I knew all of these things.
Robert will fall asleep upstairs. Alexander will wait us out. Like until 10:00 at night. He will stay awake until I can’t take it anymore and have to go to bed myself. So, here we are. Sleeping in the family bed.
Every night, we (well, I) tell stories. Alex started asking for the stories first, wanting to hear stories about when he was little or when Robbie was a baby. Then he wanted to hear about when I was a little girl or how Justin and I met. It’s become a part of our routine, more than actually reading books before bedtime.
We all pile into our bed (twin bunk beds aren’t conducive to snuggling with two growing boys and, occasionally, the husband), so I can start the stories. Sometimes, they ask me to tell about specific things, like their first bite of ice cream or a trip to the beach. Other times, I share stories of things I’ve remembered throughout the day. But you know one of my favorite parts? Telling stories about when I was a little girl.
There are so many things about my childhood that I had forgotten. Not forgotten on purpose – but, as time goes by, seemingly insignificant memories go dormant and are replaced by things happening later in life. I’ve shared stories about camping on a farm I completely forgot we had, riding horses through the creek on a summer day, and climbing trees so high we swayed in the breeze. Suddenly, I’m more than just their mom.
The other night, Alexander had a solution for us. After all, we are struggling with space in the bed. Alex sleeps between us and Robert sleeps at the foot of the bed with the dog. There are usually a few cats sprinkled in there as well. As we were transitioning from one story to another, Robert shared that he would sleep in his bedroom alone if our bedroom was upstairs; he just doesn’t like being on the second floor by himself.
Alexander, completely agreeing with his brother for the first time all day, piped up with, “I have a idea. Let’s put another bunk bed in our room upstairs. It can be all of our bedroom and then we can always sleep all together as a family.”
“Oh, well, that is definitely an idea,” I replied, glancing at Justin with by eyes wide.
“Yeah, it’ll be great. We can all get in our beds. Then we can read stories. And we can sing songs. And everyone will have enough room. Then your room can be all of our playroom!”
Justin is now returning my wide-eyed look. “Wow, Al. You thought of this?”
“Yeah. I thought of it yesterday. I’ve been waiting to tell you. So, we’re gonna do it this weekend, right?”
No, we probably won’t be building another set of bunkbeds this weekend. And, eventually, our kids will get tired of sleeping with us. We will go back to having more than enough room. But for now? I’ll “read” stories about when we were all little, snuggle with my boys, and listen to Alex tell me he loves me when he rolls over in his sleep.