Early July.  The kids and I arrived in New York City a couple of hours behind schedule due to weather, overheated and overtired and overexcited to be on such an adventure, together, for the first time.

Our first stop was the Upper East Side apartment of our dear college friends; the following afternoon we would take a bus to their house in Bridgehampton.  Only the husband, the onetime roommate of my husband (oh, the stories we share), was in the city, his wife and three children having already decamped to the beach.

As our tired host graciously served up pizza at 10pm and poured me a glass of wine, LittleMan wasted no time seeking out the bedroom of our friends’ two sons — Other People’s Toys, and all that — and Babygirl cautiously explored their daughter’s plushly carpeted space.  Around midnight, jetlag no longer being an excuse for the late bedtime, I put the babes through the pajama-toothbrush paces and settled them into their respective beds for the night: LittleMan snuggled up on the top bunk of the boys’ room beneath Star Wars sheets, a superhero mirror silhouetted in the dark; Babygirl ensconced in the pink toddler bed down the hall.

As I quietly pulled the door closed and dimmed the hall lights, Babygirl began to cry, and got tangled up in the blanket and bedrail.  I reset her, and emerged to find LittleMan standing in the shadows next to me.  He too was shuttled back up the ladder and into bed.  This back-and-forth continued for about ten minutes before I sat LittleMan down for a wee talking-to along the lines of: We’ve traveled 3,000 miles today and it’s the middle of the night, and I understand that this all new and exciting but the bottom line is I’m ALONE here with no daddy and no Nana and no other adults to help me and so I need YOU, my big boy, to help me, primarily by staying in bed and going to sleep so we can travel another hundred or so miles tomorrow.  ‘Mkay?

This did not work.  And Babygirl was still crying.

Finally, I dropped the hammer: “You can sleep on the top bunk in this, the coolest room with the coolest toys, or you can sleep on the floor next to Babygirl’s bed.”

Without a word, LittleMan yanked the comforter off the top bunk, planted his feet, and looked up at me in that unmoving, decided way he has.  “I want to sleep next to Babygirl.”

“Oh!” I breathed.  (He stumps me, this child, he truly does.)  “Oh, okay.  Oh, okay, let’s go then.”  And as I made him a little nest on the floor down the hall, Babygirl, quieted at the sight of us, began to drift off, and within five minutes they were both asleep.

A few minutes later I settled into the bottom bunk of the boys’ room, alone, and found myself feeling rather bereft, in a strange room all by myself with my kids down the hall and my husband across the country.  Would I hear the little ones if they woke in the night?  Would they be able to find me if they were afraid?  Should I gather my comforter and curl up in the nest next to LittleMan?

They’ll be fine, I resolved silently.  Be a big girl, I chided myself.  Then I got up, opened the door and double-checked on my babies before finally climbing into bed.  I called my husband, texted my sister, fell asleep…and when I woke up in the bright empty flat the next morning — our host having long left for work — LittleMan and Babygirl were still nestled in and snoozing.

The scenario replayed itself the following evening in the country: LittleMan wanting, on a cerebral level, to bunk with his two new buddies in their upstairs room, but needing, on a visceral level, to be close to his sister  (and perhaps his Mommy) on the first floor.  Clamber up the stairs, tiptoe down.  Clamber up, tiptoe down.  Over and over, and Babygirl wailing all the while in the Pack n’ Play in the guest room until, exasperated almost to tears myself — This is my vacation, dammit! —  I pulled them both onto the big guest bed and snuggled them to sleep.

When my husband arrived a few days later, we entreated our baffled (but tolerant) hosts to blow up an airbed in the guest room, and there we slept, four in a room in an otherwise rambling house, in relative peace for the duration of the trip.

Fast forward to our trip to Tahoe, where we joined LittleMan after his Lord of the Flies camp adventure under the watchful eyes of his Nana and Papa.  He had been in the mountains for five days, the longest separation he and I, or he and Babygirl, have ever experienced, and was delirious with excitement when we arrived.  At bedtime, not wanting to say goodbye until morning, he tossed, tossed, tossed, and fought the inevitable until he could fight no longer.  (Sleep always wins.)

But when we checked on him later that evening, before we retired for the night, he had shifted: head down at the foot of the bunk, where he could (if he were to open his eyes) see Babygirl snoozing in her crib. Every night of our stay he would shift like this in his sleep, to be closer to her.

I read once, a long time ago, that people who share a room or a living space start to unconsciously move in sync.  Couples sharing a bed start to breathe at the same rhythm, adjust to one another’s shifts, even when fast asleep.  A co-sleeping baby is so in tune with her mother that the slightest movements will wake her.  There are nights — many nights — when Babygirl is playing possum with her pacifier or LittleMan is thumping the wall with his knees when I think that my life would be just a little bit easier if those two monkeys had their own rooms.

But perhaps not.

Here, there…Together, they are Home.

Leave a Comment