Something I’m trying to learn about life is that sometimes you have to admit that you’re wrong.
This revelation is useful when trying to dissolve the bitter taste of callused words flung reflexively at people I love, like my mother and husband. A simple “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” when I can manage to pry the sentence from my know-it-all mouth, can have medicinal effects. It’s difficult, but crucial, to occasionally just admit that you don’t have it all figured out.
Motherhood is the perfect stage for showing just what you don’t know (but think you do.)
I had, for 21 months, preached the benefits of sharing my bedroom with my daughter. Believing wholeheartedly the entire time that co-sleeping was the way, perhaps not for everyone, but for her and me, for sure. (Her father was less convinced.)
Then I’m coerced – by little more than my own insecurities about how that crib in my bedroom is going to look to the houseful of family coming to Telluride for the first time this Christmas – to make the big move. Transport the crib and all that comes with it; the fuzzy blankies, the stuffed frog, the special pillow; out of my realm and into the unknown – the bedroom down the hall.
This requires what feels like a Herculean effort on my and Craig’s part, this seemingly simple moving of the crib. It takes weeks, because I, in all my infinite wisdom, believe stained carpets must be replaced, walls must be painted, framed watercolor paintings of teddy bears must be hung. It must, I attest as I climb ladders and pound nails, be the happiest, coziest, nicest little bedroom it can be. Or else.
Or else what?
Or else, I silently worry to myself as the room slowly takes shape, I will lie awake at night fretting that my baby girl is scared, or uncomfortable, or unhappy by herself in her new sleeping quarters. That I will pace the hallway between our two beds, wondering if she’s okay in there. Or worse, that I will just break down and move myself and my pillow in there every time she starts to whimper.
The big night arrives, and everything is in its place. The bookcase is stocked with her favorite bedtime books. The frog and the puppy and the baby doll are tucked in tight. The humidifier is humming, sweet lullaby tunes are playing, the framed watercolor teddy bear is hung on the wall above her bed.
Her father and I tuck her in, and while she doesn’t immediately settle down (the child never in her life has,) things eventually go quiet. That was, I think in amazement, pretty painless.
I am alone in my bedroom, for what feels like the first time in close to two years. I feel like I could do pirouettes in all the space now left open by the removal of the massive baby crib. I do not step on flung aside stuffed animals or books while walking through the room. I climb into my bed – leaving the light on! – and pick up a brand new novel.
This, it suddenly occurs to me as I settle against my pillows with my book and cup of tea, is pure luxury.
I sleep a full night uninterrupted for the first time in many weeks. When Elle wakes up and emerges from her big girl bed and her big girl bedroom, she pads down the hallway to mine and we cuddle. She’s happy, and I’m happy, and it’s as if this arrangement was meant to be all along.
And so, dear readers, it must be said: I was wrong. I don’t regret sharing my room with Elle, but it may have dragged on too long. To have a bit of time and space to oneself, after a full day of sharing both with one small but very lively and insistent child, could actually make for a better parent in the morning.