Rod For My Back

The path was paved clearly for me to follow, starting from when I myself was a little bean; my dollies came with cribs, you see.

This idea of The Mighty Crib was carved so definitely, so specifically, that barely any room was left for movement or challenge of this perceived ‘norm’.  There was no mention of evolutionary night-time parenting, or cultural differences in how we are ‘supposed’ to react to our babies during darkness...this carved 'ideal' focussed only on our society; only within our recent history.  Yet in the breeze, there were whispers of ‘another’ way...and sure enough, warnings followed; warnings of the issues that this ‘alternative’ route would inevitably cause.

The doubters warned against a woman’s instinctual urge to sleep beside her baby; of her natural need to remain close.  They spoke with force of this common problem, this pesky calling that so many new mothers suffer from.  They tried to convince us that we are fragile after childbirth, that we are soft and squidgy, and I’m not just talking about That Belly.  These doubting friends were there to remind us that the only acceptable place for our babies to sleep at night is in a separate crib and preferably, in a separate room.

These wise doubters told me, and I remember it well, that sharing my bed with baby bean would become a habit impossible to break.  And on this point, I must admit that they were unequivocally correct.

You see, for me, co-sleeping is a habit that is impossible to break.  Because what these conditioned doubters do not understand, is that I am actually happy to share my bed with my daughter; I sleep soundly knowing that she is safely snuggled beside me.  I will not be breaking the habit and in turn, my little girl’s heart; I will instead let this easy and instinctual form of night-time parenting run it’s natural course.
You see, all of little bean’s sniffling and wriggling does not actually stop me from sleeping.  Even her tendency to pat my face in the early hours doesn’t actually ruin my rest.  These things simply form one half of our sleep dance; a sequence that we have fine-tuned over the last few years to the point of being as natural and as easy as breathing.

And funnily enough, my husband is not missing out on my time or attention.  You see, our 2am musings about the meaning of life and the particular hue of my eyes were more frequent in our honeymoon days anyway...because we are talking about sleep-time here, aren’t we?  Not romantic-musings-time, or getting-it-on-time...these are separate and seems that these doubters’ conditioning and lack of imagination run deeper than I first considered…

But here’s the clincher; I am in no way making a rod for my own back by being a reliable and consistent parent to little bean; regardless of the time of day.  Must I really state, here in black and white, that dependency is not an annoying is in fact as natural as hunger; a biological need to be satisfied.

Yet for all of their errors and assumptions, these doubters do make one good point.  They are right that co-sleeping will be missed when it slowly and peacefully comes to an end.

Because I have no doubt that when I am a nana bean and it is 2am, I will regularly close my eyes and imagine that baby bean is nestled against me, softly wriggling and patting my face.  I have no doubt that my heart will ache and long to sleep beside her one last time, just as I will undoubtably long to kiss away the boo-boos and stroke her soft baby hair whilst she is post-boob dozing.  This is the path laid out for us; to love unconditionally and watch with wonder, with pride, with joy and with sorrow, as our babies grow and as the years roll by.  Because these years of intensity will surely end, but our mothering will never waver.

I will never regret sharing my bed with little bean.  I find ease and contentment in the knowledge that the transition into her own bed will be a natural one; it will inevitably be a gradual one and it will happen on little bean’s watch.  It will happen only once my daughter’s night-time snuggle-quota is overflowing and only once she intrinsically trusts that sleep is a safe state to be in; that night-time is a warm, loving and connected time.  Because our love and connection does not dim in darkness.

So whilst there may be a quiet and accepting kind of heartbreak when our bed-sharing comes slowly and naturally to an end, it will be mine and mine alone.  Maybe though, just maybe, papa bean’s 2am musings as to the exact hue of my eyes will be there to ease the ache and guide me into the next phase of motherhood; once the wonderful intensity of these early days has calmed.

But tonight, I will sleep beside my baby.

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