Ali doesn’t always sleep very well, and this is partly due to Riley’s sleep gymnastics. Yes, seven-year-old Riley still sleeps with Ali. Four-year-old Maddie does too. Before you judge her, know that nine-year-old Story still sleeps with me. And I am not doing a thing to stop it.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to kick Story out of my bed — and even succeeded. I tried all the tricks: staying with her until she fell asleep, bribing her with an unreasonable number of bedtime stories, buying her a super-cool bunk bed, rewarding her for sleeping in her bed all week by allowing her to sleep with me on the weekends. None of them really worked though. One day, she just decided she wanted to sleep in her own bed, and that was it. For a while.
She then became obsessed with scary stories and preferred to read them right before bed. (This is yet another way in which she is so much like my sister Lora.) As I’m sure you’ve come to know, Story’s imagination is her reality. So, scary stories seriously scared her. And she was back in my bed, seemingly for good this time.
All the professionals and a good number of other parents would tell me that nine years old is way too old to be in my bed. How dare I risk stunting her independence by allowing her to share my bed!
At first, I was ashamed. I didn’t put in enough effort to get her back in her own bed. I wasn’t stern enough with her. I was lazy and preferred my own comfort and sleep over what was best for her.
Then I woke up one day after a great night’s sleep and looked at my daughter’s peaceful sleeping face. Before long, she is going to want to spend as little time as possible with me. She is going to look to her friends for advice and think I know nothing. She is going to roll her eyes when I ask for a hug. And she’s going to never again even consider the idea of crawling into bed with me. I already see the signs. She no longer snuggles me. She only says she loves me in response to my saying it to her. She is living in a world that is, to an extent, of her own making. I have no worries about her independence or maturity; she is well on her way with both.
I am going to soak up every minute I have with her, and if that means she kicks me in the face in her sleep, then so be it.