Some time ago (OK, fine, so it was just before Ruby started kindergarten), after many years of struggling with our now 7-year-old's well-documented sleep issues that—at their very worst—forced my husband and me to seek middle-of-the-night solace in our Civic Hybrid, our little girl started sleeping in our bed.
Now, I know the panel of (parent) judges is going to take a full-point deduction from my score. But I'm not looking to medal in this event since there will be further deductions. Just keep reading. You'll see.
Even though I'm still awakened several times each night, "co-sleeping" as it is often called, has turned out to be the path of least resistance. And I'm not going to defend my choice to do it other than to say that when I am old and saggy and too aware that the best days of my life were these— when the constant noisemaking has ceased and the waist-high fingerprints on every door jamb have long been wiped away—I will not regret the many nights I wrapped myself around my sleeping child and kissed her sugary skin while she was unable to protest my doing so. Also: Didn't I just see you breastfeeding your 6-year-old in Starbucks?
Admittedly, it's a tight fit that's becoming tighter with every growth spurt. Like too many clowns stuffed into a VW Bug, there are limbs hanging off the edges of our queen-sized bed, and the flailing arms and kicking legs of the not-exactly small-anymore person between Sam and me can do damage. Ruby literally sleeps like a baby, which is to say, she's out cold but her limbs have Tourette syndrome. Getting kicked, punched, smacked, slapped, whopped, walloped, poked and jabbed is how co-sleepers roll, and don't let anyone tell you any different.
I get more sleep now than I did during the toddler years when Ruby slept in her own room, but it's still interrupted sleep. Nothing redirects a flying dream like an elbow to the nose. Well, nothing— I'm told—except a darling little knee involuntarily delivering a blow to a defenseless pair of nuts. Sam and I have contemplated sleeping in protective gear, but a sports cup, he says, wouldn't be comfortable. And I'm pretty sure Ruby would suffer a specific and lasting psychological trauma by waking up to hockey-mask-wearing parents.
Despite the jostling and the injuries we suffer, Ruby manages to sleep through the night, which almost makes me believe in God. Sam and I can have whole conversations before we nod off, or after we're jolted awake—about how there is no God or when was the last time we cuddled?—all while Ruby sleeps peacefully. She's the most angelic and loveable cock blocker ever known to man.
Speaking of which, I know you're thinking: But what about your sex life?
Well, this is a very good, if not sort of yucky question. Who out there really wants to hear about married sex? I know I'm not all that interested in it, but that's another column about my hormones and my battle to dominate them. The reality is that having a child in our bed has actually forced us to get creative with time and place, which is another way of saying location, location, location!
"You wanna go have sex in the new car?" I asked Sam recently as I was being stiff-armed out of my side of the bed. "That sounds like a good idea to me," he said from his gonad-protecting fetal position on the other side. We slipped out of bed, and wouldn't you know it but the Child Who Sleeps Through Earthquakes lifted her head just then, and like Cindy Lou Who busting the Grinch stealing her Christmas tree said, "What? Where are you guys going?" And like thieving Grinches, we lied. "We're just going to get a glass of water," we whispered patting her on the head.
Sam grabbed a quilt, and together we snuck like horny teenagers in the home of a preacher parent across the hardwood floors, directly to the garage, coming full circle. (Sure, the story would have been more dangerous if the locale was my husband's classic Mini parked beneath a streetlight on 30th and University on a Sunday morning before last call. But I'd argue that getting caught by my child is as daunting as a ticket for indecent exposure. Talk about lasting psychological trauma. Either way, these are risks I'm willing to take for the benefit of my marriage.)
With one easy pull of a handle, the spring-loaded leather seats reclined; we spread out the blanket, stretched out, locked ourselves in and there, in the blackness and warmth of our garage, we measured the cargo space (at 5-foot-10, I had to curl up a little bit) and tested the suspension (the car barely moved) of our new car.
When we'd properly initiated the latest addition to our fleet, Sam buried his face in my neck, kissed me and whispered words I feared were going to be way too Nicholas Sparks than I can handle, but which turned out to be perfectly Jalopnik: "I love my new CRV!" Thank you, Honda, for providing us another escape hatch.
For a while, we lay there taking stock of the space, chatting and laughing. Then in the quiet, we took stock of cabin noise and listened for the footsteps of little Cindy Lou. But no. We found her right where we'd left her, spread like a starfish on her side of the bed.
* This is not a paid endorsement; however, if you want the rights to my story for marketing purposes, call me.