In His Special Bed

by Sonya Feher on July 22, 2009

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My two and a half year old son Cavanaugh is asleep in my childhood room, the room I slept in throughout high school, weekends home from college, and which my mom still calls mine though I haven’t lived here in 21 years. Tonight is the second night my son has ever slept in a bed without me.

Last night, we were at my dad’s house. His guest bedroom has wood floors, a high antique bed that’s set in the middle of the room so neither side is against a wall–and Cavanaugh rolls, turning himself into the horizontal bar of an H, flips upside down so his feet rest at the pillows. He’s a mover. At home, where we sleep on our king sized mattress on the floor, this is not a problem. If he ever rolls over the pillow barricade around the edge of the mattress, and travels the eight inches from the mattress to the carpeted floor, he sleeps through it. His slumbers would be disturbed by a two+ foot tumble bumping over the jutting walnut frame to land on the cherry floor. Not even if I put a pad down. It is dangerous.

When we arrived at my dad’s last night, Cavanaugh was asleep. He hadn’t napped on the flights from Austin to Albuquerque. A visit to a friend, a trip back to the airport to trade out one rental car for another, then sloshing through a beautiful hard rain that pulled all the sage and dirt scent to welcome us into not-Texas weather sent our boy to the Land of Nod. I transferred Cavanaugh from the car seat and he slept through the cool air and the lie down. He slept in his own bed all night long.

There was no warning him that this would be different, that Mama would not be next to him in the bed when he woke up. And he did wake once in the night. He stood up and I opened my eyes though he never said a word. It felt like the 976 nights I have shared a bed with him transferred to this new way of nighttime parenting, the one in which he just knows without our even having talked about it that I am there and he is safe. I reached over and pulled him into the bed with me and my husband. I said, “We’re at Grandpa’s and you’re sleeping in a special bed because this one is so high. You can sleep between me and Daddy if you want or you can go back to your special bed.” He crawled over me to get off the bed, lay down, hugged a pillow, and went to sleep. I lay there, not sleeping.

Special BedSo tonight at my mom’s, when we took Cavanaugh back to my bedroom, I asked if he wanted to sleep in the big bed with me and Daddy or in another special bed. “In ‘nother speshul bed.” We rolled out the mattress, added one small white stuffed kitty, one velvet “special” throw pillow we carry with us from home, his newly adopted “special” blanket from the travel kit my husband gave me as a present one year and I finally carried on the plane, and our sweet boy with his newly found ability to sleep on his own. I nursed him for awhile and then he asked for “some cuddles” to help him go to sleep.

I lay on the carpet next to his roll out mattress and managed not to cry. I studied his brown eyes and their long lashes, looked at his cheek bones and how the shape of his face is changing. What if I’m not ready for the big boy bed? He’s our only son, will be our only child. I will never get to do this again. And now, without ever having come to some formal decision or figuring out how to transition or talking anything through, he’s just sleeping on his own, happily, in his special bed. He cuddled facing me for a little while and then turned over, hugging his kitty, curled into the soft blanket outside my arms.

Sonya Fehér is a co-leader of the S. Austin Chapter of API and is a contributing editor for API Speaks. She blogs at http://mamatrue.com.

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Sonya Feher (27 Posts)

Sonya Fehér is mama to Cavanaugh True. She is the leader of the S. Austin chapter of API and is a professional organizer helping families to create space for how they want to live.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

m a m a :: m i l i e u July 24, 2009 at 9:31 am

Absolutely heartwrenching and incredibly well written, Sonya. My little guy is only 7 months old and I am already dreading the day that our nighttime snuggles and nursing sessions will come to an end.

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Tamara Morales July 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Your co-sleeping/bed sharing days are not over though. Early mornings, sleeping in time, sick days, and just because…all times bed sharing still happens, at least in our home.

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Amber July 25, 2009 at 10:59 am

When I had a baby I feared those early days would never end. Now that I have a preschooler I know what you’ve just written. They grow up so quickly, and without our consent or our input. It’s so, so bittersweet.

You can feel comfortable knowing that Cavanaugh moved on when he was ready. He took the step on his own and in his own time. He’s very fortunate, indeed.

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Stephanie Petters July 27, 2009 at 6:55 am

I loved reading this because it is SO true. My 5.5 year old daughter has grown so much from the baby she was. She still sleeps with us but she toys with the idea of sleeping in her own bed and those nights do feel so sad. Now she has requested no cuddles while she is laying there trying to sleep. I know it’s because it’s creates more heat for her and since she is hot bodied it makes it hard for her to fall asleep… but I miss the bliss of just holding her in my arms as she fell gently asleep. They do grow so quickly and time just flies… precious time that you just want to re-capture again.

She is and will be our only child as well. I think this is why this time period is even more poignant. We won’t expreince it again and it will and is being missed already.

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Kelley July 27, 2009 at 1:32 pm

While I don’t actively look forward to having “my bed back” (my son is actually the very first person who I enjoy snuggllng with all night long), I can only hope that our years of nighttime parenting also result in such a confident, calm young man, especially since he is likely our only child, too. I think of how difficult this issue was for me when I was a kid – how scary nighttime was, how much I wish that my transition into my own bed was made on my own time, and I am relieved to know that there is another way for my baby. Your account of Cavanaugh peacefully choosing his own bed fills me with hope, even as it tugs at my heart. Thank you.

Also, thank you for sharing such a sweet picture of your little one!

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Sonya Feher July 29, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Thank you all for your comments and the reminders that he’ll still sleep in the big bed sometimes too!

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