Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Family Bed

I have mentioned that I have a lot of friends having babies right now. One of the millions of decisions you have to make is about the family bed. Will you be one of those families where baby is in the bed with you? Or will your little bundle of joy have their own bed? And if you do decide to have baby with you, for how long? And then once they do move to their own bed will they still be allowed to stay with you at times? There are a lot of decisions to make around the sleeping arrangements.

This morning (I say morning because it was sometime after midnight, probably around 2 or 3) I was lying in my bed thinking about the beds we have had in the past. When Brent and I first married we had a hodgepodge of furniture. Basically whatever Ann and I could fit in the little U-Haul we drove to Florida. Two kitchen chairs (the table wouldn’t fit), a big butcher block chair, a TV, two dressers and two twin mattresses that fit together to make a king sized bed. That was all. So for our first apartment we set up the bed and the chair in the bedroom and had basically nothing in the living room. This meant that anyone who came over to the house had to hang out in our bedroom. It wasn’t unusual for me to get home from work and find 3 or 4 people sprawled on my bed watching TV. The bedroom was our living room. Because Brent was married he was allowed to live off base as soon as basic training was finished, the other guys in his school had to wait, I can’t remember if it was a certain rank or a certain amount of time in that had to happen before they could request to move off base, but there was some requirement that had to be met. So this meant our house became the place to come just to get off base for awhile. Then when my work friends meshed with Brent’s work friends we alternated between our apartment and Amie’s, Marla’s, Tamara’s and Andy’s place. The division seemed to go, party go to the single’s apartment, hang out and watch TV come to ours. It was a good split for me and kept our place MUCH cleaner than theirs!

So that was our first “family bed” our Navy family. Hanging out watching TV, eating dinner, hiding from the base. But still a family bed. And something that I would never ever imagine doing today. Funny the difference in mindset from 18 to 41. Welcome to my house, come up to the bedroom and make yourself comfortable! But it really was just an extension of being a teenager in high school. Where did you hang out when your friends came over? In your room. So this wasn’t a huge shift for us. It wasn’t until we finally had enough money to buy a couch that we moved people out into the living room!

The next shift happened when Christopher was born. We had traded from a plain frame and those two twins to an actual queen sized bed by that point in time. Now we had to decide, kid in the bed or not? We decided not. He had a crib in his own room and that’s where he spent 90% of his time. We would bring him in with us in the morning to lay around, but not for sleeping. He always had his own space. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but one I don’t regret. Especially when I watched friends go through the tough transition with an older child to get them into their own bed in their own room. But that time in the mornings where he would come into bed with us lasted until he was probably three or four. He would come into our bed on Saturday and Sunday morning and Brent would try to sleep and he and I would play. We would tell each other stories using the blankets and a small handful of his toys as props. I can’t remember all of them, but we told the same ones over and over just adding bits and pieces to them. He didn’t get up and watch Saturday morning cartoons, he got up and made his own.

As Christopher got older his bed became the family bed. He would settle in for the night while we sat in the rocking chair and read to him. I loved reading out loud to him and kept it up for longer than most parents probably do, and he was a good sport and let me for longer than most kids would have.

Now years later Christopher is well ensconced in his own room down the hall reading to himself before bed and Brent and I are in our own bed. This time though I get a third, he gets a third and George gets a third. Amazing that a 9 pound cat can take up so much room! I’m thinking about getting a dog next fall when Christopher leaves for college…we might need to step back up to a king sized bed if I do.

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