The only times in my life that I’ve had to share a bedroom were my freshman year in college and then the semester I studied abroad. I don’t count my current room at home as one that I share since my husband and I both know that it’s mine, although I am gracious enough to let him sleep and store his stuff there. I never understood how “The Brady Bunch” kids suffered three to a room but Alice got to enjoy her own wing.
My parents’ house is now added to the list of places where I have to share a room, and it’s with my daughter. It used to be that when we were at my parents’ house and she cried at night it just meant she wanted to come in bed with me. I quickly discovered that was no longer the case when we were there visiting earlier this month. On our first night she was still up wailing at 10 o’clock as my husband and I got into bed. We tried holding and cuddling her, but to no avail. Two hours later I sent him downstairs to the couch and I took the hallway floor with a pillow and blanket. Within five minutes of our departure, she was fast asleep.
Since neither my husband nor I had any intention of additional couch and floor time, on the recommendation of my sister and pediatrician, I bought some Benadryl the following morning. I think I previously thought I would be one of those moms who would only administer drugs to my kids if it were a life-or-death situation. (I also thought I would only ever serve organic food and ban television until I realized there are few things in life better than Chips Ahoy cookies, and Barney is way cheaper than a babysitter).
But I also don’t have a lot of experience with sleep problems since my daughter sleeps close to 12 hours at night and up to three-and-a-half hours during the day. In her room. At our house. Unbeknownst to me, apparently our house has an exclusive sleep contract with her. One night of next to no sleep was enough for me to abandon my principles and gag her with three-quarters of a teaspoon of the good stuff.
The Benadryl only lasted so long though. When 4 o’clock struck each morning, it became an exercise in bladder control as I would lay perfectly still debating whether wetting the bed was preferable to getting up and going to the bathroom but possibly waking the baby, who would then perhaps not go back to sleep until her midday nap. So I would drift in and out of sleep, dreaming about Depends, all the while convincing myself that being miserably half awake until a decent hour was preferable to an empty bladder and trying to entertain a cranky 20-month-old for eight consecutive hours.
One morning at around 5 she started making some chirping noises and I made the mistake of rolling over and opening my eyes. She wasn’t lying down, as I had assumed, but rather standing up and staring at me as if she had been waiting patiently for me to look her way. She had a slightly deranged look, like Max Cady in “Cape Fear” or Ramona from “The Real Housewives of New York City,” said nothing and raised an arm in the air with her pointer finger straight up, à la John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” (only with ladybug pajamas instead of a white leisure suit). No words were necessary; she wanted up and knew she would get it imminently.
When we visited last summer we avoided any same-room sleeping issues at my parents’ house by sticking the crib in the closet. Sure, making a baby sleep in a small, windowless room may sound cruel, but as far as closets go, it’s actually quite spacious and stores nothing more sinister than my mom’s offseason clothes, so the baby even had something to count — blouses and sweater sets, mostly — other than sheep when she was falling asleep. It was win-win, really.
The closet wasn’t an option this visit, however, since I didn’t feel like rehanging the clothes that my daughter would have inevitably pulled down every night now that she’s much taller and more agile. So I had sort of hoped that for at least one night we might have parked the crib in my parents’ room. But they laughed — loudly — at the suggestion.
Apparently we’re in possession of different editions of the Grandparents Manual. While they are inarguably doting, playful, generous and loving grandparents, they are not the types who have ever, say, offered to sleep on the floor of the nursery after you give birth to administer night feedings to the baby. And with my sister’s three kids already in beds and out of diapers, my parents are definitely at the been-there, done-that stage if they can avoid dealing with anything whiny or poopy.
I don’t blame my parents. I just know that when I have grandkids instead of Hershey’s Kisses, I’ll greet them with open arms and Ambien. Then they’ll be welcome to share my room anytime.
More on and from Meredith at meredithcarroll.com.