Cosleeping Like a Rock Star

Did the family bed cause us to separate?

My child is a rock star. At least, she likes to ask people if they are, identifies as one, and vigorously leaps up and down to music. Unfortunately, for much of her life, she slept like one.

Like many hippie parents, we were casual about bed times, while being very not casual about where Ronia slept: namely, with us in our bed. The cosleeping equation is simple: you will get lots of sleep; it will not be alone. Ronia was a skilled nurser who could latch on without waking herself or her mother. She was/is also a highly social child. If food and company were not available in bed, she didn’t really see the point. And so she settled into a 11 pm to 11 am sleep routine.

As a stay at home dad, this was in my interest. We awoke together, or if I was feeling really ambitious I would try to get up early and perform some household task. Unfortunately, this was less in her mother’s interest, as she was a teacher who had to rise early.
And so the rift between us parents widened, maintained by Ronia’s ubiquitous presence in our bed, sometimes quite literally between us. Ronia’s mother blames cosleeping for our separation, but I don’t. We made our choices, and there was a reason we didn’t miss each other. We must have known, right?

By the time we realized, it was too late for us, but still time for Ronia to get her big girl bed. Then followed an interregnum, where one of us laid down with her and then snuck out like a guilty lover. This continued after our separation, only one of us no longer had to wait guiltily while the other struggled upstairs. Instead, I was either on my own, or completely off. I enjoyed the time lying in the dark, next to my child. Ronia developed a hair trigger, detecting a parent’s departure from a deep snore and shrieking before I reached the stairs.

When Ronia started school, she magically began to go to sleep by 8 pm, all by herself. She bragged about how brave she was, and I suddenly had extra hours in a day. I could make plans for after she was in bed. Then she began asking every night to sleep in my bed without me. “I don’t need to cry, I just need the covers.” I worry she was regressing, missing that shared parental bed, but I took the deal. I share my bed half the time, but my nights are my own.

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Jesse BaconJesse Bacon grew up a nerdy, wimpy Jewish kid in rural Wisconsin. He stayed at home with his daughter for most of her first two years of life and is just now transitioning to a part time activist work for Jewish Voice for Peace while she starts preschool. He would also like to incorporate racial and economic justice into his support of feminism. He is a practicing Jew who goes to synagogue most weeks and tries to keep his laptop closed on the Sabbath.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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