I'M THE youngest of three, and I didn't stop getting into my parents' bed until I was around 12.
People are shocked at how old I was, especially if they have children who come to visit at night now. Surely it can't last that long?!
But I've had a revelation, following a night where both my children made it into my bed. My husband got a good night's sleep in another room while these two bodies curled around me.
Even though there are times when those squiggling, wiggling little bodies drive me to distraction and rob me of my sleep, I won't ever tell my kids to go back to their own bed.
If there is one thing I can offer my children it's comfort. With so many uncertainties in life, so many things I can't shield and protect them from - I can always offer them that.
When I was young and had woken from a nightmare, I'd high tail it to Mum's side of the bed, creep in, and snuggle up to her. I have never felt so safe in my life.
I can't say that both parents welcomed me coming into their bed. Dad would roll over, little by little until I was perched precariously on the edge. Even so, I felt secure and protected (as I clung to the side of the mattress).
I've heard lots of advice on how I can get my kids to sleep in their own rooms. Sometimes this advice is offered with a side of judgment; I'm being too "soft", I'm not prioritising my partner. You know, how do you ever have sex if your kids can come in at any time?
Besides the fact that children can interrupt intimate relations even when they sleep in their own beds at night, I no longer care if people think I'm being soft.
I can see how lucky I am to have had a Mum who let me come to her at night and a Dad who let it happen.
Not every child knows what it feels like to have the simple love and security of a cuddle, whether that's after a nightmare, or when you've stubbed your toe.
And despite what some people think, it hasn't "ruined" me. I've managed to grow up with a level of resilience. I don't crumble at the first obstacle. I'm not weak or damaged because I got into my parent's bed at night.
I'm perfectly fine, and my kids will be too.
The last time I got into bed with my Mum I was 18. We had an exchange student staying with us and they'd had a rather rowdy party. It was very early in the morning and I needed some sleep before I got up for work the next day. I just wanted some peace and quiet.
So, I crept into my parent's room and got into bed next to my Mum. She lay there like a lump of coal. It was not what I was expecting. And to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I may have been 18, but I was tired and grumpy and could have done with a bit of reassurance from her.
It was only later I learned that Mum didn't know it was me. She thought I was one of the exchange students! (I know, I don't understand why she didn't kick them out either.)
I know that at some point my kids will stop coming to my bed in the middle of the night, but I hope that I will be to them as my Mum has been to me.
A refuge, a place of sanctuary, and somewhere the will always feel safe and loved.
And if that means them getting into bed with me after they've had their heart broken at 15, lost a job at 21, or fallen out with friends at 30, I still won't tell them to go back to their bed.
Unless, of course, they're some strange exchange student from Finland.
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