What happens when you spoil your baby? The mid-way results are in!

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Seven years ago I wrote this post. It was hard to write. I remember stressing about it and worrying that readers would judge me like I judged myself. I had ideals for what parenting was about and I was harsh on myself.  I was failing.

Before I had a child, I was that smug single person who got annoyed when you called me on the phone and you couldn’t carry on a conversation for more than a minute because your kid was interrupting you fifty-seven times in the background. I mean come on?! Can’t you just tell your kid to shut-up for a minute? Yes, I was that sneering , eye-rolling, impatient snob in restaurants making fun of the haggard parents who couldn’t control their crazy kids in a grown-up, sit-down situation. I admit it. That was me. I thought I was better. I had big plans about what kind of parent I was going to be. Biiiiiiig plans.

I was going to teach my kids to be independent. They weren’t going to be hanging on me every five minutes, or screaming and hollering and running the show. No, they were going to be well-behaved and I would rule the roost with an iron fist. I was strong. I would be a good parent. None of this wimpy parenting for me.

HAH!!!!

God saw my big parenting plans and sent me the most adorable, strongest-willed creature on the planet. Even the nurses warned me she was going to be a handful. They could tell that when she was SIX days old!  And here’s the thing: She was so cute I was completely defenseless to her wants and needs. She owned me. She still does. I never did the cry-it-out thing. I never Ferberized. I rocked and sang and let her sleep with me. I pretty much rearranged my entire life around my beautiful little creature who brought me endless joy. Yeah. That was me.

Which brings me to that post from seven years ago. I wish the comments were still there (They got lost over the years when I switched from Moveable Type to WordPress) because they comforted me a lot back in those hard days when I thought I was failing miserably. I remember, I think it was Margalit who said, “Don’t worry. They won’t sleep with you forever.” I think she even mentioned something about her twins being seven or eight when they finally decided they wanted their own bed.

So here we are:

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Bug is eight and she finally has her own bed. It’s been something she’s wanted for a while but we live in a one-bedroom apartment and I’ve been putting off buying something because of expense and lack of space. We’ve always had a futon at the foot of my big bed that she called her bed but she never slept in it. Why bother when cuddling with mom is so much cozier? Plus, I didn’t want to have to roll out that big heavy futon thing and then roll it back up every day. It was just easier to sleep together. And it wasn’t weird or anything.

But it was weird to her friends and she was starting to get embarrassed. And I was starting to get tired of her stuff exploding all over my space. Remember that nice white bedroom that I was so proud of when we first moved here? That serene peaceful space that I could call an oasis? Hah! It was more like Bug’s massive castle of clutter and alter of exploding art supplies. Her toys and stuffed animals and various posted signs and masterpieces took over every inch of our bedroom. I felt like I was sleeping in a day care center run by muppets, not my own sanctuary.

So I bought Bug a loft bed and shoved all of her crap underneath it. I hung a blanket over her little area and called it a day. Clutter is now out of sight and out of mind!

Hallelujah!

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Of course it wasn’t quite that easy. We may have purged two bags of toys and one bag of clothes and I may have made a new rule about not hanging anything on the walls anymore. Just, you know, taking back some control over the situation…

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And because her little space is so fun, she didn’t complain a bit about the new restructuring of power in our one bedroom. It’s like she has her own apartment inside our room. She LOVES her new bed. She sleeps in it almost every night.

We’re getting there. She still climbs into bed with me on extra anxiety days but I would say four out of five nights, she sleeps by herself.  It’s nice. So much room for my legs to stretch out and no more kicking!!! Wooo hoooo!

So what’s the final word on spoiling your baby? Did I create a monster by letting her sleep with me when she was tiny and pretty much rearranging my life around her? Maybe. She is still pretty spoiled and used to getting her way. She still has an iron will that I’m no match for but she’s a good kid. Could some of her struggles with separation anxiety be because I never forced her to be independent from me when she was really really little? I don’t know! I wonder that all the time. If I had broken her will before she was five would she be more well behaved?

I don’t think so.

I think every kid is different and they are going to be who they are no matter how you parent. I think we parents change our parenting based on the kids we have. I think she changed me more than I could ever change her. She made me into the kind of parent I am. At the end of the day I trusted my gut. I tried all kinds of things but what worked for me was not what I thought would work for me. And I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I still have no idea what kind of teenager she is going to be.

I’m slowly getting myself ready for the “I hate you, mom” years. Maybe miraculously we won’t go through them but they might happen and I think I’ll be able to take it. I think I’ll know what to do when I get there.

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That’s kind of what’s been working for me so far…

 

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17 Comments What happens when you spoil your baby? The mid-way results are in!

  1. Nancy

    Sweet Brenda, Thank you for this. I can totally relate and this all sounds so true to my heart too including saying I would parent differently than them all. Now I feel I rearranged our life for our sweet Sadie, and I am okay with that and love almost every minute of it.
    Yes, we parents do what works for us individually, and there is no manual that comes with them, so I feel as mothers, we should listen to our gut and intuition. It hasn’t been wrong so far. Thank you my sweet friend for sharing this Great piece of your heart.
    Big Love to you and Bug, Nancy

    Reply
  2. Christine

    YAY! That’s the same bed my son has (though his is blue side out). He doesn’t keep any stuff under it though, except a spare mattress for the imaginary sleepovers his sister never actually has with him. Bug’s under-bed area is gorgeous!

    My kids have iron wills too, and I bend to them far more often than I probably should. But they’re good, great, wonderful kids, and I have faith that they’ll keep going in the right direction.

    Reply
  3. mamalang

    What a cute little area and a great compromise! My son is 11 and still wants to sleep with me when dad is out of town. I figure that’s part of the reason we have king bed :)

    What about some sort of covered cork board hung under bug’s bed, that way she has a space to hang her signs/artwork, but it doesn’t mess up your pretty white? We did this with our kids cause I’m anal about lots of nails and tacks in the walls. We let them pick some cute fabric, got the squares at walmart, covered them using a staple gun to secure the fabric on bag, and then crisscrossed some ribbon. They’re cute and make mama happy.

    Reply
  4. Shannon Phillips

    Hi Brenda! What a cute idea for creating a more independent space for your bug=) Our boys, now both teens and taller than us, shared a room growing up but craved their own room when they hit the teen years. Now they each have their own space and it is working to keep the peace between them. Sophia, also eight, is another story.
    She was born over seas in Sicily and did a lot of traveling when she was young. She and I spent three months together in the same bed when she was two and it took a long time to get her out of our bed after our final trip back to the states. She had a room all to herself but didn’t want it. We even got a dog to sleep in her room but it didn’t work until she was good and ready. Like you said, every kid is different and you as the parent are sometimes just along for the ride!

    Reply
  5. JC Wing

    Brenda,
    We had a family bed, too. It wasn’t planned that way, My daughter had colic and was up crying from 11 at night until 7 in the morning. She only suffered through this for about a month. My husband and I would take turns with her, but I breast fed so I was up with her most often. In the morning when her tummy would finally allow her to relax, she’d always fall asleep on my chest. I would quietly take her into bed with me and there she’d sleep until she woke up. I was so tired when she wanted to eat again that she would just nurse in bed. It just became comfortable and when her brother was born 3 1/2 years later, he joined us in our king sized bed. Lots of people shook their heads at us and didn’t think it was a good idea, but by the time our daughter was about six and our son was 2 1/2, they were sleeping pretty much on their own. They are now 15 and 11 now. We, thankfully, haven’t gone through any “Mom, I hate you” years. We are close knit. I homeschool and we are never far apart for long. I don’t regret doing any of the things we did. Hopefully neither will you. We are all along for the ride for the most part. Parenthood is a wonderful journey full of surprises. We need to just sit back and enjoy the ride. :)

    Reply
  6. Beck

    Both my girls will come to my bed in the middle of the night. My seven yr old more often than my 5 yr old. Sometimes because of a bad dream and sometimes just because they woke up and wanted to be with me. =) When I was nursing we were in the same bed alllllllll the time. It just worked for me. I’m not sure when it started (or when it will end) but once a week the girls have “daddy/daughter night” where they cuddle and watch movies with him and sleep in our bed. (I happily sleep on the couch because it’s waaaaaay too crowded.)

    Reply
  7. Cathy

    Wow, sometimes I can’t believe how many flashbacks I have when reading your posts! My kidlet and I still share a one-bedroom and (sadly, at 19) she still has the exact same bed. Except yours is a way cooler set up and neater! And I used to nurse her to sleep every night and ended up bringing her into my bed quite often (she nursed til 2 1/2 yrs!) I tried to ‘Ferberize’ her too -for about 20 mins until my heart broke to pieces. Motherhood is hard but so rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I wouldn’t have minded having your blog when I was going through it either! You’re doing just fine and Bug is turning out wonderfully…I doubt “I hate you” will ever pass through that teenager’s lips! (Mine hasn’t! Whew!)

    Reply
  8. Susan:)

    Trusting your gut is the most important thing. I call it mother radar. A mom just knows her kid and what works for them. And every kid is different. Bug’s new space looks cool. I know I would’ve loved that setup when I was young. Also, I like the color you painted her table and chairs!

    Reply
  9. Snake Bethany

    When/if I ever come visit you, I expect to sleep in that new cozy bed! I love it! Then again, Lena may not allow me.

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  10. bethany actually

    1. Annalie is gonna be SO JEALOUS of Bug’s new setup when I show her! Heck, 9-year-old Bethany is retroactively jealous too!

    2. Annalie is 10, and she goes to bed in her own room every night (unless Gramaw Debbie is around, in which case she sleeps and snuggles with Gramaw), but she wakes up in the night and comes to our bed occasionally, and she loves it when Troy is out of town because I let her sleep with me. Some people are just cuddlers, regardless of age, I think!

    3. This: “Did I create a monster by letting her sleep with me when she was tiny and pretty much rearranging my life around her? Maybe” made me sit up straight and say YOU DID NOT. Bug is an awesome, amazing kid–one of my favorite people, in fact!–and she is about as far from a monster as it’s possible to get. You aren’t a perfect parent but you have had nearly infinite patience with her obstinacy and need for routine and her color kicks, and above all you have LOVED her. She’s never doubted for a single second, even when her parents were divorcing, that she was fiercely loved and the most important person in her parents’ world. :-)

    Can you tell I’m missing you guys a lot? Sigh. I look forward to seeing that bed in person someday!

    Reply
  11. Amy

    I will never understand the argument that giving our kids’ needs equal or greater attention to our own is going to be bad in the long run. I just don’t get it. My daughter is a few months younger than yours and they seem SO similar it’s uncanny sometimes. I totally get it. She never does things on an adult timeline. And most of the time, I can’t imagine why she should.

    Reply
  12. Kuky

    Isabelle has her own bed….that’s right next to our king bed. :D So basically we have a gigantic family bed. It’s been that way since I can’t even remember when. I don’t think Isabelle ever slept in her crib as a baby. Co-sleeping was simply easier for our family. No waking up and putting a baby back in their crib. They slept wonderfully as long as they were next to me.

    So did you create a monster? Nope. Because if what you did even remotely created a monster, my kids would be total horrors! :)

    Reply
  13. s

    Don’t sweat the small stuff…and honestly I realize this every day that our children will be who they are regardless of what we did or didn’t do so don’t beat yourself up. On the flip side we can take credit for all their successes right? Haha. Your shared bedroom looks great and eventually you could even do an Ikea curtain or a little screen to give more division. I am struggling with this “own space” issue with two of my kids who share a room.

    Reply
  14. Jenny

    I can so relate to this…our daughter is 7.5 and still sleeps with us. I beat myself up about it because it’s not “normal,” but I also treasure the cuddles because I know they won’t last forever.

    Reply
  15. Evilisa

    That bed seems to solve a lot of people’s problems with space and the kids all love it. Good choice. Also, Bug? She got so leggy. I’ve always thought you were a great mom. Mostly because you really care and you are so involved. You’re doing great!

    Reply
  16. Sonja

    I love all the little monsters we’ve created! ;-)
    I wonder sometimes if N would be less slow to warm up/more “polite” to strangers/new friends if I’d forced him to be more social (or away from me) when he was smaller. I guess we’ll never know! I’m sure that N is a more shy/reserved person. That’s just who he is! And my job is to help him find a good way to function, not to force him to “appear normal.”

    Reply

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