So here’s some news:
Ex and I have been talking, a lot. Ex is my ex-husband, Daryl, Ryleigh’s father. We’ve been talking about getting ourselves together separately and what that means for us together. We love each other and have managed to remain friends despite all we’ve experienced, and mostly I feel it would be nice if we could make it work. But there’s a problem, a few of them actually.
My scandalous lifestyle. The way I breastfeed big ole’ toddlers like it ain’t no thang, the way my 9-year-old talks back to me like she’s a respected member of the human race, the way my daughters don’t seem to have a set bedtime, the fact that they see no part of a school building, ever…and the co-sleeping.
“They should be in their own beds!” He says. ”They aren’t babies. Isn’t this why they have rooms?!”
No, they’re not babies, I reply. But they’re my children and they need me.
“Kim they would be fine if you had them in their own rooms.”
But I don’t want my daughters to be “fine” I answer. I want them to be happy and feel safe. The setting of the sun doesn’t signify the end of my “shift”. I am still their mother. If Ryleigh was afraid of something during the day and I ignored her you’d be upset. This is nighttime parenting. This is what I signed up for.
No answer from Ex. This is like a really big deal for him. I’ve even offered to read research with him about the benefits of a family bed. So far he’s refused to look at it because “he knows what he knows” and he’s tired of me having “research” for every decision I make. WHAT’S THAT? Yes, you read correctly: he is tired of me making evidence-based decisions about parenting – the most important job I have.
And now the questions: am I willing to set aside my feelings about what’s best for my children, in order to have a chance with Ex? Would I be willing to do it for anyone? Is this compromise? Am I being unfair?
No, I’m not. I understand the way Ex feels, because I formerly held similar opinions about how children should be treated – but I can’t respect him not wanting to even look at the research and form an opinion based on that. I can’t respect it because to me that means he knows that the research is going to tell him what he doesn’t want to hear, and that deep down he knows it’s best, but he doesn’t truly feel it’s worth the personal sacrifices he’d have to make. If the kids sleep in bed with me I can’t be having sex in bed! Oh no! Whatever will we do?!
I don’t know but I won’t be kicking my girls out of my room, even if it means I remain single. I’m starting to realize that many adults fear the ideas of conscious parenting because of the cost to their personal liberties – because of childism. The kids aren’t worth it. They’re just kids, they’ll be fine either way. I need my “me” time. My entire life is not about kids.
Yeah, you know, mine isn’t either. My entire life is not about kids but I do try to get a long well with everyone. As an adult I’ve had to bite my tongue or do things I’d rather not, often, in order to keep the peace with other adults. My children are worth that. No I don’t always love sleeping with them but if this is what they need right now, and I brought them to this world, and I’m the person who takes care of all their needs during the day - who am I to tell them that because it’s dark they must face their fears alone? What right do I have?
I’m bigger. I pay the bills, I handle the stress, I was here first, the lease is in my name, I make the rules, they need to learn independence, it’s just not natural. Those are some of the reasons, right?
Doesn’t work for me anymore. Having children not only means we become teachers, it means we become students as well. This is a lesson for me in give and take, in honest compromise, in keeping my eye on the big picture. These girls will not always be children and will not need me or want me this way forever. Right now they do.
That’s really the only answer I have for Ex or any man I’ve dated who doesn’t quite get why I do this.
Right now they need me this way, and this is the way I will “be there” for them. There is so much I can’t give my daughters, sleeping with me is free and easy – I’m giving it. Especially now that I’ve learned how beneficial it will be to them in the future.
So, maybe I’ll remain single for a long while, maybe not. I’d love to find a like-minded partner but that’s not currently my focus. I have enough to do and I’m happy. Of course I get lonely and tired and stressed and angry but it wouldn’t be worth it to me to have a companion if it meant I’d have to shortchange my kids.
Ex and I are still talking about it and today he’s more willing to listen. Who knows. I’ve known Ex since he was a 19-year-old college sophomore and I know he’s got a good heart. I’m going to keep being gentle and respectful of the way he feels, and I’ll keep chipping away with all my boring evidence. Maybe his crusty, childish shell will shatter and fall. Mine already has and I refuse to allow it back.