This was written January 15th, 2014 by my sister, Lettie.
As one in a family of six, I was not accustomed to having a lot of alone time. Our home was always full of family, meal times were a social event, and my bedroom was shared with sisters. Not surprisingly, when bedtime rolled around, I would find any excuse to get out of my lonely bed and slip into my parent’s bed. I was not the only one who felt more comfortable there; usually at least one of my other three sisters had the same idea. And so, as we one by one would sneak into my parent’s room, my mom would pull back the covers and teasingly sing, “There were five in the bed and the little one said, ‘roll over, roll over,’” and we’d giggle and squish in to snuggle next to her and fall asleep. No one was ever told there was no room, despite four perfectly good twin beds in adjoining rooms lying empty for no good reason.
In my memory, my parent’s bed was GIANT –a “California King” that often accommodated my parents and all of us girls. My own bed now is that same size, and sometimes, when I’m crowded by my own little family piling in the bed, hogging the covers or stealing my favorite pillow, I wonder how SIX of us could ever have possibly fit in such a small space. I realize it wasn’t the bed itself that somehow magically stretched to fit us all, it was a bigger representation of how our family worked. We all fit in somewhere; even when in reality my mom was wedged immobile between us and my dad teetered on an impossible sliver on the edge of the bed. Long before I’d even heard of current parenting buzz words such as co-sleeping or bed sharing, I was just a little kid that felt there was no safer place in the world than snuggled next to my parents, having sweet dreams, and my mom wouldn’t have it any other way.
Last night my littlest one was feeling sick and having a restless time falling asleep. I typically try to stick with the bedtime routine, kids in their own beds, “good habits” being enforced. But sometimes I remember some things are more important than just having good habits. Kids are only so little for a short time, and feeling safe and loved and happy will be a foundation of their being forevermore. I see now how fortunate I was to have a mom who parented me with that philosophy.
I carried my little one into my California King and watched her fall asleep as soon as her head hit “mama’s piddow,” her limbs happily spread out, taking up more room than would seem possible for such a small girl. As I balanced myself on a small edge of the bed, I noted aloud to my husband that sometimes the best medicine is just sleeping next to mama and daddy. And then I fell asleep; sleeping better than if I’d had the whole bed to myself.