Today I decluttered the spare room. Technically, it’s one of two spare rooms. But the other room isn’t really spare, it’s my room. With my bed. And I use it when I’m on shift; I sleep in it during the day and sometimes at night. As G is a light sleeper, he doesn’t like being woken at 5am when I have to get up for work, especially if he has to get up an hour and a half later to get ready for his work–if he wakes with me, he won’t go back to sleep. It’s a little better on weekends if he has no specific time to be awake. So at times, I sleep in my room.
I’ve just finished reading a book called Cat Lady. In it, the MC likes to sleep in a separate room to her husband, so she can sleep with her cat. Some friends overseas are buying a new house so that they can each have separate bedrooms plus a spare room. A former work colleague shared that he and his wife have separate bedrooms, too. I don’t have a separate bedroom because I like it, I have it out of necessity. I would much rather sleep in the same bed as my partner. But I have recently started to wonder about permanent co-sleeping; when it started, when it’s deemed ok and when it’s not. These thoughts were prompted by a friend who’s split from her narcissistic ex and whose child still co-sleeps. After her most recent weekend, the child informed my friend that she sleeps in the same bed as her dad and her dad’s new partner.
This made me think about children and co-sleeping because I took every opportunity to sleep in my parents’ bed when dad was working night shift. And I never once considered whether my mother wanted to share her bed (her only alone time!) with me when dad was at work. I would have been well into my teens before I stopped doing this. But parents co-sleeping with their children is still viewed as a bit fringe, and most people expect it to end before the child turns 10. I have always hated sleeping in a bed by myself. And that was what prompted these thoughts. Adults are often questioned if they do not want to sleep in the same bed as their partner. Their very relationship may be called into question if they prefer sleeping alone. And yet, children are expected to do it from a young age.
I like sleeping next to someone because it provides me with feelings of safety and security. That feeling is the same, whether I remember sleeping in my parents’ bed as a child, or whether I think about sleeping next to my partner now.
There are so many things children are expected to do that adults aren’t. Children are expected to know how to regulate their emotions even if they’ve never had a good example of that modelled, they’re supposed to know how to generate their own feelings of safety and security when banished to their own dark bedroom, they’re supposed to only speak when spoken to, play quietly and not be raucous, not interrupt when other people are speaking, always be polite and remember their manners. (Or perhaps that was just in my family?) And yet, these are often things that adults are not required to do.
I want to sleep in the same bed as my partner but I do wonder–why is it ok for adults (actually deemed “normal”) and not for children (deemed “abnormal” especially after a certain age)? And why do we struggle to understand or offer acceptance and compassion to those who want to do something different?