I’ll just say it- we’re co-sleepers at heart. In our house someone always lays down with Zuzu. For a while it was timed to music, or a set number of stories. The coyote chew was put in play to retrieve your arm from under her. There’s a been a variety of versions. In our bed, in her bed, but always with a grown-up laying down with her. It didn’t start out this way- or I should say the intentions didn’t. We made a nursery. We hauled our butts to Ikea and got a shiny new crib with a matching bumper/quilt/mobile and soft art-work collection. We filled the room with soft colors, music, animals and blankies. We made it a fun place to be, and then night-night would come and we would head back to Momma-Daddy’s room. Around 18 months I had set last call for nursing. Then at 20 months we moved her going to bed routine to be one that alternated Momma and Daddy and took place on her bed. For the first few weeks she would wake up and cry and one of us would go in for the quiet rescue. Eventually she figured out life was much simpler if she would just get up and come back to her rightful spot- between Momma & Daddy- and cut out all the middle-of-the-night negotiations. I remember so clearly the first morning Lovey and I both woke to find her between us and neither of us had been the one to bring her in. Well the time came for the Quail to burst forth and I couldn’t quite bring myself to “lay down the law” so to speak. The first night home from the hospital Zuzu sad with puppy-dog eyes watching me with her sister and when I laid TQ down in the co-sleeper she dubbed the room Momma-Quail’s room. Well it broke my heart- mostly because she was being so sweet and understanding about it. So- I did what all tired mothers do (if they’re honest) I said- “Oh-no honey- come lay down with us!” And she was back.
I think because she always had slept with us she was a fairly reasonable bed-sharer. She laid fairly still and didn’t frequently move us out of the way. Well- no- she didn’t move me out of the way. It wasn’t uncommon to find Lovey huddled down about 2 feet below his pillow by morning and her having taken over his side of the bed. The Quail on the other hand- in her co-sleeper, in a swaddle, in all her hypotonic glory could wriggle herself down to the bottom and turn sideways. Middle of the bed was just never a safe option for her. When we would try weekend naps altogether it turned into a giggle fest and no one slept.
So we returned from Grandma & Grandpas this summer and I was finally just too tired to do the routine. So I explained to the girls that we would read books in the living room- 3 to be exact, of their choosing and then they would get to go lay down in their beds with a kiss and a tuck-tuck-tuck! I managed to say it with enough animation and excitement that no one was the wiser throughout the stories and the first tuck and tuck. By the third tuck Zuzu gathered what was up and was a little less than pleased. I explained that she was welcome to come snuggle like she used to if she “happened” to wake up during the night. I’m fairly certain she used my turned back as the cover to set her alarm for 12:30am because for the next few weeks she has come to us like clockwork. I also used the fact that she had been dry all night for the last month as incentive that it was a privilage to get to sleep in her own bed with big-girl underpants instead of a night-night pull-up. She had been asking for weeks if she could wear underwear to bed like Momma and Daddy do- so this lucked us into a perfect compromise- you sleep in your own bed (or at least start out there) and you get to wear the big-girl underpants! Big girl things and the priviliage of getting them is often the distinction she questions before doing something. “Is this for big girls or for babies Momma?”
There are still a few tears- hers and mine. I know it’s good for her to have some independence and to be able to go to bed without coddling. I know she can- she does it at school everyday. But I appreciate the sentiment. I was never one to sleep with my bedroom door closed. Growing up it was comforting to hear my family moving around inside the house. We’ve had a handful of nights that she has slept all the way through without us. Those make me the saddest- it’s a sign she’s growing up. But with that comes wisdom and mini-me plotting. Each night as Lovey and I do our own family rustling and readying for the next day Zuzu comes in turn to each of us with a question, “I thought you went to bed! You need to turn off the computer and go to bed! When are you going to go lay down?”
I smile, tell her I love her with a little chuckle and that it will be soon. Some nights this suffices, others it is the beginning of the “If you give a child a drink of water at bedtime” routine. I’ll enjoy the last days of The Cuddlers while I can.
*And on a side note- along those lines of her road to independence- she can open and close her own car door now and she can work the buckle on her car seat- scary roads ahead as we are now faced with the need for a clear understanding of the law and safety rather than simple child-like compliance with her seatcart (as she calls it!), but oh such a big girl!