Every single night, my sleep is interrupted by a child — one of my twin daughters, usually, the one we’ve dubbed “Winnie the Pooh.” She loves to cuddle and snuggle and generally, is attached to my hip. If she could, she would happily crawl back into my uterus. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I find that she’s more cuddly, snuggly, and prone to invading my bed than before.
They sleep in our bedroom out of necessity, our twin daughters. Our small colonial home only has two bedrooms, so until we can afford to add on, they’ll be in our bedroom for at least another year. But one of our twins wants to be closer and closer to us, especially at night, and that means not just being in our bedroom but in our bed.
When I get up to put our daughter back into her own bed, I’m often thrown a curveball by my wife, who says, “Oh, please leave her a little longer. She’s scared and just wants to be with us.” This request from a woman who never wanted kids to begin with (and now has three). My response is always like that of a teenage tantrum: fine. Ugh! By morning, I roll over and expect to have one last cuddle with my wife but instead, Pooh slaps me in the face and reminds me that she has once again triumphed over my sleeping space.
Most nights, I feel relieved to get to snuggle with my wife. But there are definitely times I feel bad that I’d rather get a good night’s rest than to deal with a sore groin the next morning due to a kick from Pooh in the middle of the night. I can relate to their need to be as close as possible to their parents. As a child, I also wanted the warm body of an adult, to protect me from the perceived threats I imagined coming to get me in the middle of the night.
Like monsters, either imaginary or real-life, someone coming to kidnap me or a thief breaking into our home. From our daughters, we hear the same: “I am scared of the door.” What? The door? The door which has our clothes behind it? So, I resort to bribery, as though maybe they can be coerced into bravely sleeping on their own through the promise of candy or a new toy. It never works.
I try to be easy on my kids. They have so much to deal with, so much taken away from them because of COVID-19, that the least I could give them is a night (or seven) in my bed, right? And this is what I continue to tell myself to enable me to deal with the fact that I may never have my bed back again. I’ve thought about buying a new, bigger bed, but I know that is not the answer either.
In the end, it is my job to protect my kids, even when their reasoning is irrational or simply age-appropriate (like, “I can’t sleep. I had a nightmare.”) Many would say that I am doing nothing wrong by allowing our kids to share a room with us. Cultures around the world do the same exact thing, and have for centuries. And allowing such sleeping arrangements helps kids feel safe and secure.
Well, that’s all fine and good. But my question is: Can’t that happen while they are awake?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I want them to feel safe, healthy, happy and all of that — hell, that’s why I became a parent, because I know I can provide all of this and more for them. But damn, when will I get to sleep again? Or more so, when will my sex life resume? I am ready to evict them, build them their room, and get some semblance of my old life back. Because even if it leads to just one measly extra hour of sleep, I’ll take it.