A Rude Awakening

I remembered to turn off the alarm before bed Friday night. There was no way I wanted to be woken up earlier than necessary. It was not a school day. An empty glass of wine rested on the nightstand as I leaned over to turn off the light. The clock glared red, “12:00am”. I had stayed up late, finally watching the season finale of The Gates.

My queen size bed felt like the family den, as I snuggled deep under our down comforter. DW was already snoring next to me, Luna’s head rested on my pillow, little whispers of slow, deep breathing escaped her. The hum of the ceiling fan lulled me to sleep. I remember dreaming about the many sleepovers this bed has hosted: two little girls while DW is away on business, The Tortoise when she has a bad dream, The Hare as an infant nursing in the middle of the night or now when she is struggling with a cold. There have even been a few times that all four of us have squished together in the middle of a big thunder-storm, as flashes of light filter through the blinds. We have an open bed policy.

When I was just a little girl, probably four or five, we had a family bed. It was a slew of mattresses lined up from wall to wall so that all five of us could sleep in the same room. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford beds, quite the contrary. Each of us had our own space, our own room to find solace in during the day. But the night was different. The night brought us all back together again. I don’t have many real memories of those short years, just a feeling. The feeling of calmness, comfort and security. There is a true sense of connection that I have with my parents from that time, one of completeness and unity. There was no place that felt separate from them, not even in the night. Even now, I believe that I could crawl into bed with my parents, snuggle down under the covers and be transported back to that little girl hiding from the world.

Although I don’t remember details, I do remember parts of a story my mother has retold a few times over the years about our family retreat. She awoke with a start from a deep sleep, troubled by an unknown angst in the pit of her stomach. It only took a few minutes to realize that out of the darkness, the sweet smell of baby breath was missing. There was no sound coming from my youngest brother lying next to her. It is a mystery how long he had been laying there without filling his lungs, but my mother was able to blow in his face, shake him gently, perhaps even give small puffs of air into his tiny lungs, reviving him from possibly an eternal slumber. Because of our family bed, my brother was not another SIDS statistic.

Suddenly at 3:00am Luna jumped on top of my stomach, stood stark still, barking. Next to my bed was a very startled little girl with her hands over her ears, screaming and crying. DW sat up in a daze, confused by the commotion.

“What the hell?” I exclaimed.

The Hare and Luna

Quickly I regained my focus and realized what was going on and grabbed The Hare’s arms, pulling her hands away from her ears as the tears were streaming down her face. I could feel the wetness on her cheeks. My arms surrounded her small body, gathering her into the bed.

“It’s alright…everything is alright.”

Luna also realized who was now in our room, in our den. Her tail started wagging uncontrollably, her body in small convulsions as she tried to get into my arms too. The three of us lay down, Luna licking the salty trails from The Hare’s face in apology.

It didn’t take long for DW, Luna and The Hare to drift back to sleep. The Hare’s head nestled on DW’s back, her feet dug into my side. Luna took a spot over my head on the pillow, her wet nose tickling my cheek. It was the most comfortable night’s sleep I had all week.

However, maybe we should consider investing in a King size bed soon.

5 thoughts on “A Rude Awakening

  1. I am so conflicted about the family bed right now! My toddler daughter spends half of the night in our bed. In theory, I adore it. In actuality, I get VERY interrupted sleep. I have not slept for more than 4 consecutive hours in over a year! If I were capable of being more selfish, or if I didn’t love her tiny body so much, I would boot her back into her bed in a heartbeat… maybe…

  2. funny that you mention the king sized bed. we are considering the same thing. it is funny how a 15 lbs dog (in our case) changes everything.

  3. It really touched your Dad and me when we read about the good feelings you have about your early life, even if you don’t remember the details. Thank you for that. And yes, you are always welcome to come snuggle with us whenever you want!

  4. I love the story of your childhood and the “family bed”. I practice/d “attachment parenting” with Jonathan and as a working, nursing, single mother the “family bed” gave us both a sense of security and safety when our life was in upheaval. If we hadn’t cosplept I don’t think I would have had the stamina to wake up every night, go to his room, and nurse him for the recommended two years. I am grateful for my midwives and the community of friends and family who supported (celebrated) my decision to have a “family bed”. Cheers to DW for being such a supportive partner and father too.

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