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Suzanne M. Brown Headshot

The Choice To Not Co-Sleep

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Sleeping in our house is an event best accomplished alone. I knew before my son was even born that co-sleeping was not our style. We evicted him from our room at barely two weeks old. I just couldn't sleep with him nearby. Every time he made noise I woke up. Every time he didn't make noise I leapt out of bed to watch him breathe. Sleeping in our bed was not even an option.

And so began the days that my husband lovingly referred to me as the "sleep sergeant." I worked hard to get my son, and 16 months later my daughter, to sleep a full night in their own space. And it worked! They go to bed without argument, they sleep a full night without interruption, which means they wake up well-rested and we wake up happy parents.

Our decision to not co-sleep with our children has allowed us to nurture our relationship as husband and wife, while at the same time instilling in our children the importance of being independent.

I love being a parent. It is a blessing so indescribable that one can only know the feeling when it happens. There are tough moments; moments that make you slam doors; moments where you hang your head and sob. But mostly there are the other moments; the candid smiles, the sticky kisses, the endless games of Candyland. The ones that let you know, "Yep, we're doing okay." It is because of all these moments that I need a moment (or perhaps several dozen of them). It is for this reason that I choose not to co-sleep. I need my space, my independence.

Our lives and the lives of our children are inextricably intertwined with one another and this is evident all day long. Yet at the same time, each one of us is an independent being with our own thoughts, fears, concerns, etc. So each one of us (both the kids and I) needs to have some time to be independent; to be herself (or himself).

I think this time away from one another is not only healthy, but also essential. It's my time and it's my husband's time. It's our time. It's so important to me that my identity be not just as a mother but also as a wife, a therapist, a friend, an individual. I believe this time is beneficial to my children as well because they are so much more than just my son or my daughter. They need a break from me just as I need a break from them.

In the course of a life span, so few are the days where we actually get to shelter and watch over our children. So quickly they will grow and be off conquering the world. And when this happens I want to look across the long divide of a queen mattress and see what I have always seen: my dear husband.

For us, the sleepy moments before nodding off have been significant. It's in the dark quiet that we have often had our meaningful conversations. It's when we both said, "Yes, let's sell the townhouse" and "I agree, maybe we should have a third child," and, "I love you too." Would we have these moments if there was a child, or two, in between us? Maybe. Maybe not. But for us these are our moments.

Our entire days are dedicated to our children. And we love it, but from 8:00 pm to 7:00 am we get to be what we were before the kids -- husband and wife.

If only we could get the dog out of our bed...