So, our children have lived with us for over 2 years, and they go through periods of sleeping in our room and sleeping in their own room. We have even put bunk beds in our room and made it very cramped so that they actually have a proper bed to sleep in. We know getting them into their own rooms isn’t going to be a quick fix. So we might as well get comfortable.
For the Logan, this has primarily been to try and find what works to get him sleeping – he doesn’t, or at least he didn’t. And often, he didn’t like anyone else to either. But moving house, taking melatonin plus sleeping in our room, plus exhaustive and exhausting experimentation work means… sometimes he actually does now.
And for Caitlin, it’s been anxiety, and inability to seek help (it honestly felt safer, to her, to self harm than seek help) and we are talking about an under 5 here, when this all began rearing its head. Sleeping next to me stopped that, eventually we could move to sleeping near me. And now it’s sleeping in my room even if I am absent, knowing I will be present later.
But even tonight, something has triggered her, she’s reverted back, she’s just been freaking out over us not being upstairs. Difference being, that now, we can even have the landing and hallway light off and she feels comfortable enough to get to the landing and make her presence be known from upstairs before she freaks out; the girl who would lie in bed until she was literally wetting herself, the girl who’d rather scratch herself until she bled so she didn’t have to scream for help, is actually getting out of bed and seeking our help. BECAUSE she’s in our room where it feels safe.
Shes been screaming that we aren’t up in the room, she can’t see us so she doesn’t know if we can keep her safe and her birth parents might show up and might try and take her away and hurt her.
And yet, I get “why the hell are they still in your room? What on earth are you doing setting them bunks up? you’re just inviting trouble… How old are they? How long have they lived with you? They have a good life now… they should appreciate that and learn to sleep in their own beds…”
Just a few of the more recent editions of the script that gets played over and over. Not that it’s really anyone’s business to be questioning the way I parent (or the way anyone parents for that matter). But to question you right back – think of the most traumatic thing you have ever been through since you had the “world knowledge” to understand it. Ok, how long did that take you to get over? Now imagine going through it and having your whole world ripped away from you twice. Everyone and everything you ever knew… twice. Again with the world knowledge to understand it.
That’s what these guys have been through, perhaps more, and without the world knowledge to even help themselves rationalise it. And worse still, without ever having made that connection with someone to be able to transfer any trust on to new adults. So having gone through it all without being able to trust anyone except each other (and even then, not really).
Now tell me that once you had built a safe relationship up with someone, following all of that, that you would not want to feel close to them at your most vulnerable time? The time where your memories rear their ugly heads, in such vivid dreams you cannot tell what’s real (from what is not). At the time when, in their early days, they experienced their most traumatic events.
And then ask yourself, where would you want to sleep? And understanding all of this, where would you want them to sleep? If your answer is still “well you should still have your own space to sleep” then either you have no empathy, or you are still not getting it, so just leave it be and stop asking. If you are getting it, stop asking me and back away. You don’t see the emotions that these children have to go through, that they should be naive to.
The underlying implication, of being questioned, is that I should be able to have my marital room to enjoy sex at will. I would give up anything for these two to feel safe, yes even chocolate… and anyone who knows me knows I would rather live without sex than chocolate, music, or a darn good book. But, does not having my own bedroom mean I can’t have sex? Really? C’mon guys, this may be England, but I am pretty sure there is no law that states “your marital room only, in the missionary position only once the children are sound asleep in their own rooms”. Never done it in the living room before? I’ve often heard talk of kitchen tables too… just saying.
But it’s not even about that. Surely, as a parent, your child’s welfare comes way above those things anyhow?
In short. If sleeping in my room is what they need, that’s what they are gonna have. Cause frankly, I don’t see anyone else out there making them feel safe, loved and happy. If I have to skip sex, or get inventive on where I can safely satisfy that need, that’s just the price I am willing to pay – but why is that anyone’s problem?