Lovely Lavender or Lace Cap? Seafoam Spray or Mint Hint? These are the choices before me, and given my current level of inner turmoil, you'd think I was negotiating an international treaty, not picking what color to paint my 4-month-old baby's room.
This is not a problem that stems from some need to have my sleeping angel enveloped in a perfectly accessorized nursery ripped from the pages of Pottery Barn Kids (she's our 2nd child, after all). Martha Stewart, I am not. No, the longer this goes on and the more I stare at these silly swatches, the more I realize my indecision over colors is completely color-blind. It's less about what shade or purple or green will go with her sheets or quilt, and much more about what will cover up my confusion and guilt.
We've been sharing sleeping quarters for quite some time now, me and my tiny roommate. For 39 weeks and 3 days she was close enough to use my internal organs as a punching bag, and for the past 17 weeks we haven't been that much farther apart. She lies next to me in her little bassinet, within a fatigued arm's reach at all times. In the middle of the night I can easily comfort her when she wakes, and I'm equally comforted by the sight of her tiny chest moving up and down, the sweet little noises she makes with every third or fourth exhale, the smell of her freshly washed hair. But my baby is rapidly outgrowing her little nocturnal starter home. I know she needs more room to stretch her arms, kick her legs, and roll around. I just can't seem to bring myself to evict her.
We're not shipping her off to boarding school, my very level-headed husband tries to explain. She'll only be moving about 30 feet down the hall. Still, It just seems so far. Far too great a distance for any electronic monitor to bridge.
Up until recently, our sleeping arrangement has made sense. For the first few months she spent nearly as much time eating as sleeping during the overnight hours, and I certainly didn't want to add a commute to our already exhausting schedule. But in a blissful turn of events, she's recently begun sleeping through the night. So it's not like she really needs me on the overnight shift anymore. And therein lies the problem: she's already beginning to not need me.
It's much like the scene in When Harry Met Sally (not THAT scene!) when Sally has a near breakdown about her age.
Sally: And I'm going to be FORTY!
Harry: In eight years!
Sally: But it's there, it's just sitting there.
It's just sitting there: my baby's burgeoning independence, a bittersweet, sometimes painful reality, and I can't help but press fast forward on the mental movie racing through my head. If I move her into her own room then that means one day she's going to move out of the house and move far away and leave me FOREVER! It's there, it's just sitting there, in different shades of purple and green paint swatches from Home Depot.
I know there are many out there who advocate for cosleeping, touting the joys of the family bed. I have heard how certain cultures view the landscape of the bedroom with the parents as a mountain range, protecting the sleeping baby who lies between them. But I've always been more of a beach person myself. Much as I love my little sleepyhead, I also know I need my space, I need my fluffy down comforter and pillows, I need to be able to watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta from the comfort of my bed. Selfish, perhaps. But I spend most of my days covered in all things child. I wake up with the theme song from Thomas and Friends running through my head. My formal dining room is now used for Play-Doh picnics. The line between "burp cloth" and "my shirt" has blurred beyond distinction. For the sake of my own health and well-being, I'd like a few minutes to feel like a grown-up at night.
So why not just move her? I don't recall having this trouble with her older brother. At 3-months he was happily snoozing in his own crib, in his own room. Maybe it's because she's a little girl, and seems so delicate, so in need of protection. Maybe I'm so tired, so bone tired I don't want to take a chance her newfound sleep routine will be thrown off by a change of venue. Or maybe it's that this time I don't know if there will be another child, and this may be my last chance to lie next to a sleeping angel.
So here I sit with my swatches, unable to pin down the exact shade of my love for this amazing little girl. What color says "Joy With a Touch of Sadness?" Why does this paint come in every hue except "Growing Pains Green?" One day soon, I'll find the perfect color, and the perfect time to end this very special lease. But not tonight. Let's sleep on it, my little angel, and we'll see how things look in the morning.