Monday, May 9, 2011

A Grown Up Bedroom

For those of you who assumed that this post was going to be about the goings on inside of a "grown up bedroom", shame on you. This is a family friendly blog :). And besides, I have no clue what is supposed to go on in a grown up bedroom. Because for the last six years, I haven't had one. Sure, Boss and I have a bedroom, but it is not just a grown up bedroom. It is usually a grown up bedroom plus one, or two, or sometimes even three.For the last six years it has been a family bedroom. Until this weekend, when Boss moved our baby boy out (insert wailing Mama sob here). Granted, he only moved him about ten feet across the hall, into a room that Jack now shares with his two sisters, but it feels like he has moved him miles and miles away from his Mama.Where once stood a crib in the corner of our family bedroom, now stands a nice, sophisticated, end table. It's all so very grown up looking. And so very unlike us.

We never set out to be a family that practiced co-sleeping. I know that a lot of family's have researched and believe that the co-sleeping method is best for children and attachment when they are young, but we are not one of those families. In fact, I don't think I have ever researched anything about different parenting methods. Any method we have used or implemented in the last (almost) seven years of parenting, has been by pure chance. When it comes to parenting, Boss and I have definitely been of the 'fly by the seat of our pants' method. What? That's not an actual method? Huh. Good to know. No wonder things never seem to flow quite right in our house! We usually always just go with what works, whether it follows a particular method or not. It's how we roll.

When Emma was small, she was a great sleeper. She slept for the first eight weeks in a bassinet by our bed. We were living with my parents at the time while our home was being built, and when Emma turned two months old, our new house was ready for move in. The very first night that we slept in our new house, we placed Emma in her crib in her very own bedroom where she slept all night without so much as a peep. And that is where she slept for the entire next year of her life, from seven in the evening until seven in the morning. Boss and I sure thought that we were awesome parents. We high fived each other for fabulous parenting skills a lot back then. But then we moved, and the sleeping in our family fell completely apart.

We moved from Texas to New Mexico in the fall of 2005. Right in the middle of Hurricane Katrina. So what started out as a moving trip, turned out to be an evacuation trip, as well. What should have been a day and a half drive from Houston to Albuquerque, ended up taking a week. The roads were jam packed and we were in a stand still traffic for hours on end, and we slept in a different hotel night after night. If that won't screw up a one year olds schedule, I don't know what will. The only way we could get Emma to calm down and sleep in the hotels each evening was to let her sleep with us. We were both so exhausted from the driving (and sitting) that we allowed it, thinking it would be easy to get her back on track once we were settled in our new house. Wrong.

When we arrived in Albuquerque, our house was not ready, so we stayed with a sweet couple for yet another week. And Emma spent another week sharing a bed with us. By the time we actually moved in, we were a threesome. It was awesome. Or not. We could have plopped her in her crib in her new room and let her cry it out, but I just could not bring myself to do that. The room that was supposed to be hers at our new house at the children's home, never felt quite right to me. The carpet was dirty, the air was stagnant, and we just never left her in there. So in our room she stayed. For the next two years.

Around the time that we moved to Albuquerque, I got pregnant with sweet Kate. As my belly grew bigger, the space in our queen sized bed grew smaller, and eventually Boss took to sleeping in the office. The residents who used to live with us once told our director that Boss and I had marriage issues because we slept in seperate bedrooms. When the director asked me about this, I said yes, we have marriage issues. It's called having children! Ha! And when sweet Kate came, things did not improve. She was NOT a sleeper. And while she is much better today, she still keeps weird hours. Back then, though, she slept (or didn't) in a pack n' play by our bed for the first seven months of her life, while Emma and I shared our bed, and Boss still slept in the office. There were no high fives for awesome parenting during that season of our lives.

In the months before Emma was to turn three,and Kate one, we decided to move back to Ohio. Things had spiraled a bit out of control in our family during our stay in NM, and we felt like we needed a fresh start. We bought a house in Miamisburg, and I was very excited to get each of the girls settled into their own bedrooms. I was ready to sleep with my man again! Right away we placed Kate in a crib in her room, and while she still slept weird hours, at least she slept in her own room. Alone. Emma was a different story. I refused to let her sleep in our bedroom in the new house, so in the beginning, I decided to just lay down with her each night to help her get settled in her new room. But then a week passed, and then six months, and in Emma's room I stayed, each and every night. Boss was working eighty hours a week, Kate was up at four each morning, and what little sleep we got was precious. So we went with it. Still no high fives were being handed out. On most days it was all we could do to function.

In September of 2007, we moved yet again. This time to the children's home where we have lived for the last four years. This time I was determined to start sleeping with my husband once again. Kate went easily enough in to the room that she shared with Emma (even though she still barely slept), I slept with Boss, and Emma? She slept on a pallet by our bed :). But at least she was not in it! Hey, small victories are still victories. This nice little arrangement lasted for the next year and a half. And we were all fairly happy. But right before the girls were to turn three and five, I decided that enough was enough. I had had it! I wanted another baby, and Boss said that everyone had to be sleeping well in their own rooms for him to even consider it. That was all I needed to hear. I became a Mama on a mission. Operation Sleep.

First, I took several months and trained Kate to sleep through the night. As painful as it was for the both of us, I eliminated all naps so that she would be extra tired at night. And then I slowly started moving back her bedtime until eight o'clock. (Her natural clock had her falling asleep around six each evening. Grandma says I have Boss to thank for her wonky sleeping schedule.) Oh the things we did to keep her awake in the evenings! And then came the dreaded mornings. When she would wake at four, I would go in and lay with her, refusing to allow her to get up until five. Those were some very long, exhausting months, but the hard work was worth it! By the time she turned three she was falling asleep at eight each evening, sleeping all night in her own bed, and waking each morning at six. Not perfect, but we would certainly take it!

Next, came conquering Emma. Our method for her? Simple. Every time she entered our bedroom we carried her back to her own bed. Time and time again. Night after night. Week after week. But eventually she got it. By the end of the summer, both girls were sleeping in their own beds every night, and the angels in heaven were singing a hallelujah chorus! For the first time in five years, Boss and I were alone. Blissfully alone in our own bed. So what did we do? Why, we decided to make another baby of course :).

You know by now, that sweet Jack joined our family last March. And because of spacial issues, his crib took up residence in the corner of our bedroom where it has stayed for the past year. For the most part, Jack has been a good sleeper. For his first month home I slept with him on the couch, then moved him to his car seat by our bed (it helped with his reflux), then to the pack n' play, and finally to his crib. And then, one dreadful day last week, Boss moved his crib right out the door, and this Mama has not stopped crying since. (Not really, but it sounds more dramatic if I type that.)

So for the first time in almost seven years, Boss and I find ourselves in a new place. It is the same old bedroom, but a brand new place. At ten each evening, when the last of our children is tucked into their shared bedroom (which I love), Boss and I can climb into bed and expect to sleep peacefully alone, unless someone is sick or there is a storm, etc. And this time, this season just might last. We have no babies on the way (and at this time it is still undecided if we ever will), the kids are growing bigger each day, and it seems the Z house just might be leaving the long, exhausting, baby days behind. Boss has joined the angels in singing the hallelujah chorus, but this Mama's heart is just not sure how it feels. A few years ago, I was longing wildly for these grown up bedroom days, but these days I am not sure. Because one thing I have learned for certain, is that everything in life is only but a season. Nothing lasts forever. Time marches on, and babies turn into toddlers, then children, and children grow up. And it's beautiful, and sad, and heart breaking, and joyous, all at the very same time. I think it will take some time to get used to all of the growing and changing that is going on in our family, but another thing that I have learned is that change can be good. If we embrace it. And Boss and I plan on fully embracing our new grown up bedroom. Whatever shall we do with all of our grown up time? (wink, wink)