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    « Picture this: An inch of inspiration | Main | On Andy Garcia and me »

    Wherein Grandma rethinks the family bed

    Our kids climb into bed with Jim and me each morning. Their sole goal? To get us to rise and shine, get up and give them breakfast.

    Now, that may seem strange considering our three daughters are adults and don't live in our house. But it's not our human kids I'm talking about, it's our cat kids.

    alarm cat

    Early each morning, Abby and Isabel hop onto the foot of the bed and meow their way all the way up to our heads, demanding we notice them, love them, and, most importantly, get out of the freakin' bed and feed them. Abby in particular is the alarm kitty. If I ignore her pleas, she heads on over to my iPhone cord on the night stand and starts chewing on it, for she knows darn well that will have me up and at her in a split second.

    Yesterday morning when "the girls" got into bed with us, I mentioned to Jim how crazy it would be if we let our dogs into the bed with us, too. Mickey and Lyla have their own bedroom, though, with a baby gate put up each night so they can't get out — which means they can't climb into our bed in the morning, like the cats do.

    "Just think if they did," I said to Jim. "We'd have all our kids in bed with us."

    Which led me to immediately mention that our real kids — our human kids, our daughters — never climbed into bed with us in the mornings. Never.

    Why is that? I wondered out loud. It's not like the girls weren't allowed in our bedroom, weren't welcome to join us if they felt the need.

    I remember one night in particular when Andrea definitely felt the need. It was during the summer between her fifth- and sixth-grade years at school, a scary transitional time that caused her to have nightmares. After several failed attempts to calm her fears in her own bed one night, she took me up on the offer to sleep in a makeshift bed on the floor beside ours.

    That didn't work. Andie still couldn't sleep, still was afraid.

    So I told her we'd turn on the television in our bedroom to the Cartoon Network — at a very low volume — to take her mind off scary things.

    Regardless of volume level, though, the George of the Jungle Marathon running on the network that night was the stuff of nightmares, at least for Jim and me. ♪George, George, George of the Jungle, watch out for that tree!♪ kept us awake — and unhappy — for hours.

    After a several episodes, we'd had enough. Andie apparently had, too, for she didn't balk too much when I led her back to her own bed. Where she did finally fall asleep.

    Jim and I, though, couldn't fall asleep for we couldn't get ♪George, George, George of the Jungle♪ out of our heads, out of our dreams.

    Never again, we told ourselves... and our girls. To this day, mentions of George of the Jungle elicit groans and grins from Jim, Andrea and myself as we recall the nightmarish marathon.

    Back in those childrearing years, I was thankful the girls rarely asked to sleep in our bed and that they never woke us in the mornings by crawling under the covers with us. But now it saddens me.

    It saddens me because as a grandma, I realize what Jim and I missed. The mornings when I'm visiting my grandsons and they crawl into bed with me — which is every morning when I'm at their house... and usually before the sun even considers creeping up over the horizon — are some of the sweetest moments shared with my beloved boys.

    Which is one of the more important things Jim and I failed to learn when our girls were little.

    There's no going back, though, no way to remedy that error we made with our children. But we can, as grandparents, make the most of the moments when our grandchildren crawl into bed with us.

    I will do exactly that with open arms next week, when I'll be sleeping one room away from Bubby and Mac.


    Next week I'll have four mornings to relish the slow creaking open of Gramma's bedroom door as the boys together peek in at me, then the pitter-patter of little feet scampering over to my bed while I pretend I'm asleep. Then I'll lift the covers, make room for Bubby on one side, Mac on the other. We'll snuggle for just a bit, and once they've done all the snuggling their wiggly little boy bodies can handle, we'll discuss our dreams from the night, recite our plans for the day.

    I didn't get it with my girls, but I now realize with my boys that such times truly are the best part of waking up when there are children in the house.

    As a parent, the family bed was never my thing, for I didn't want to be continually awakened by little kids.

    As a grandparent, I can't imagine any better wake-up call.

    Today's question:

    Did your kids climb into bed with you in the mornings? Do your grandkids?

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    Reader Comments (10)

    As a single mom with two kids under 3, yup, the kiiddos slept with me off and on for a couple of years. They naturally gravitated to their own beds and by the time I remarried they only came in if there were storms. My son quite all together by the time he was 8, my daughter on the other hand, would come in EVERY storm. At 15 I finally told her she was just to big to fit. The next storm I made a pallet on the floor for her, it was the last time she came in. The next storm I woke up and waited, but she never came in. I was truly disappointed, but proud of her at the same time.

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMimiGin

    Prior to school age, my girls would jump into bed with us and play for awhile in the mornings. Once they got older, it was thunderstorms that would send them our way.

    My Granddaughter prefers to yell my name and wait for me to 'wake her' with hugs and kisses. Since my husband's still asleep, she'll wait about an hour before she wakes him with her princess hugs and kisses ;)

    My Grandson is still 'captive' in a I'm not sure what he'll prefer yet?

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    Oh I miss that! Yes we often had kids in the bed in the mornings, sometimes at night, and even now with our youngest at 11 & 13, they still "have sleepovers" on our floor sometimes. Our youngest did actually sleep with us for his first 18 months. Like you, it took us a long time to realize what a blessing it was to have those snuggles. Now we too have grandkids who pile in the bed in the mornings when they spend the night, and I just love it. :)

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDawn @ The Momma Knows

    I do remember my daughter climbing in bed with us but only as a result of bad dreams -- not as a fun thing to do! Amara on the other hand has often climbed in for cuddles and tickle time! We are early risers even on the weekends and often were up before she woke.We would hear those little feed scurrying down the hallway -- a wonderful sound! Often we would all go back to bed for a few moments.

    Because we are early risers during the week -- the cats really think I should get up and feed them at 4:30 -- often times I do just to shut them up! Twursula is the worst - she will get right in my face -- bump my nose and everything! Silly cats!

    I am so excited for you! Four wonderful day of hugs! Bet those hugs will be even better than Andy's were!

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    With seven children during eleven years, I think my kids all wanted the peace and quiet of their own beds, never came into my bed in the morning. Seemed there was always another youngest one who always had me already up anyway, needing feeding.

    When grandchildren stayed overnight with me, they would come in to wake me up and get cuddled.

    Happy you will have some cuddling mornings with your cute little guys soon. Enjoy!

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    Lisa, ahhhhh.... just ahhhhh. Thanks for the lovely reminder of what is still to come.

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrown and Flown

    Cuddling in bed is so nice when (a) it's not too early and (b) you don't have to get anywhere. My adult kids don't crawl into bed with us, but my girls sometimes will come in for a short snuggle before we go to bed. They even say to me "Pat, pat, rub, rub, rub" because that's what I do on their backs while we're cuddling.

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelene Cohen Bludman

    I love the way you unfolded your experience from your cat kids to your grand kids. What a wonderful place to arrive at too, a generosity that welcomes your grand children into your lives in a way that celebrates every part of visiting them.

    Our kids were welcome in the morning but, I have no regrets over our insistence (baring any nightmare) that they sleep in their own room through the night.. I remember a few friends who would complain that their child, or children, were always in their bed and with that came tossing, turning and kicking; in other words no one was getting any sleep.

    Although I am not a grand parent yet, I imagine I may feel less like creating boundaries when the time comes. I feel as if that will be easier as a grand parent because I won't own the daily routine that raising children requires.

    You sound like wonderful grand parents, how splendid for everyone!

    October 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElin Stebbins Waldal

    One of the best things about camping and sleepovers is having my grandson crawl under the covers for a few minutes. I know my morning snuggling time is coming to an end because of age, but I'm enjoying every warm, snuggly minute I get. Enjoy your visit next week.

    October 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJudy@grandparentsplus2

    Since my kids are almost in their 40's (I started VERY young) it'd be awkward...we're fighting for bed space with the dog now....and he doesn't know he's a dog!

    October 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Coleman
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