Today I was abruptly awoken from my deep slumber by the wonderful sound of my toddler's screaming. To be fair, he apparently had a nightmare of some sort involving cars. Sigh. The joy of co-sleeping! Obviously, his baby brother also woke up, and began crying because it was way too early in the morning and such an unpleasant way to greet the new day. At that point, I was like "How in the heck did my parents co-sleep with us for 10 years???".
Yep, you read that right. My brother and I slept in the same room as our parents full-time till we were 10! And even though we each moved into our own rooms after that (on our own accord), we would still fall asleep in our parent's room from time to time, usually after we'd fallen asleep watching a movie. Heck, after we had gotten married to our respective spouses, we pulled them in with us! Haha, that's right, folks! My DH and SIL have slept in the same room as their in-laws, and both not only seem OK with it, but really enjoyed it too. You'll see why when you read on.
I know it sounds pretty crazy, especially in today's world where babies are put in separate rooms from birth onwards, but co-sleeping helped form a very important foundation in our relationship with our parents. To this day we are close to our parents, have a very open line of communication with them, and most importantly, we have high self-esteem and healthy self confidence because our parents always trusted us to make our own decisions (in this case, where we chose to sleep).
For obvious reasons, co-sleeping made us a tight-knit family. We are both close to our parents, and consider them our friends as well as paternal and maternal figures. We are definitely attached to each other, which is not something I see often with my friends' families, where every family member kind of lives their own separate lives, and they only meet each other on special occasions, and even then they dread having to attend!
The long chats in those twilight moments between wake and sleep have also helped to open the doors of communication between us. We know we can talk to our parents about anything. I can honestly say that I have never had to sneak out of the house, or lie to my parents all the time, because I know I can talk to them and can rely on them to set up an open discussion instead of an authoritarian, "because I said so" kind of patronizing approach.
Their open discussion and "family meeting" approach to parenting and making decisions also helped in my challenging teen years, where I was itching to argue about everything and was trying to establish my independence and individuality. By talking with me instead of talking at me, my parents managed appeal to the calmer, pragmatic side of me. Due to my dad's busy work schedule, family meetings were usually at night, and would extend long into the night as I fell asleep, still protesting. I appreciate that they allowed me to stay there in their room, taking up what I now know is precious time that could have been spent without arguing with a loud, obnoxious adolescent!
Being able to choose where we want to sleep was just one of the early seeds of independence that our parents sowed (yes, I know it doesn't seem like the two correlate, but they do!). Freedom of choice is a big deal in our house. We chose where we wanted to sleep when we were younger, but now freedom of choice extends to our academic decisions (both of us were encouraged to study any field we wanted, which we did...not we are both doing our post-grad studies, totally happy with what we are studying!) as well as our choice of occupation, spouses, parenting styles, financial decisions, etc etc. My parents are always there for us, almost like a safety net of sorts, but they never lord over us or breath down our necks, telling us what to do. And I appreciate the no-strings-attached freedom to make my own decision, a seed planted long ago when I was just a baby myself.
These are just some of the reasons I chose to co-sleep with my children. I'll definitely be talking more about our particular situation soon :) But for now I'll let this be a shout-out to my awesome parents - HOLLA! Y'all are awesome, and thanks for choosing to co-sleep. I know you didn't do it to be "AP" (attached parents) but that's exactly what you are, and what I am now, and for that I'm eternally grateful. Stay glam, Mom and Dad!