Friday, January 8, 2010

A Marriage Built for Three

First there was the way that she "just liked" our shower better than her own. We figured anything was okay as long as we could get her to take a shower by herself, right?

So suddenly there were Herbal Essence products lined up on the windowsill next to my Redken stuff and Husband's generic cheapo shampoo/conditioner combo product. And bathtoys lined up here and there, filling up the whole shower stall.

And then it was her shower too.

Then there was the way she set up a little pretend office in my office so she could work alongside me each night. A little makeshift desk, a tufted stool, some busy work that involved using reams and reams of all the printer paper in the house.

And then, suddenly, it was her office too.

Finally, she managed to finagle her way into our room each night she was sick - the coughing, the hacking, the miserable Daughter coming out of her room so many times she was a blur. Finally we'd succumb, make up a bed on the floor out of couch cushions, pillows and blankets. Trip over her all night. I catch her in a secret smile. She thinks it's now her bedroom too.

Tonight, the realization. The ten-year-old thinks she's part of this marriage. She has no intention of moving out of our room.

When the kids were little, Husband was firm about no kids in the marital bed. They had bassinets, then cribs in our room, and then one day Husband took the crib, moved it down the hall to the nursery and, just like that, they were out. Living independently. The worst roommates you could ever imagine, but still, they had rooms of their own.

But Daughter apparently doesn't like this living arrangement. She's ready to move back in. She'll use any tool in her arsenal - from hysteria to illness to nightmares - to get back in our room. And she has no interest in Husband. She will step on top of him and leave footprints on his head on her way to me. She wants to merge her soul with mine into a more perfect union. Or, at least, she wants to live on the floor next to me.

But Daughter got her marching papers from Husband a few days ago, when her antibiotic started working. She needs to stay in her room, even if she coughs, even if it takes a while to fall asleep.

Husband and I look at each other as she stalks down the hall, wondering if she'll stay in there. And I think about the more important thing: will I ever get my bathroom back?

How have your kids encroached on your turf? Do you remember doing this as a kid - trying desperately to sleep in your parents' room when you had a nightmare or were sick? What qualifies for a kid to get in there now?


  1. Linda....This is so comical...I do remember wanting to sleep with my Mom...She.. mother of 4 girls all 15 mos a single mom would often have 4 of us vying for her attention....I think once I got to be about 11 or so I tired of this.. feeling a need for my own that would ever happen being one of four girls...and you being one of know you never got a minutes peace. Daughter needs more siblings!! Is it too late for that??

    I was just thinking of how we had finally kicked our youngest out three years ago. (She used to wake up at three in the morning and crawl in between us, steal the blankets and plant her feet in my face.)
    But then looked to my left and THERE SHE IS....LOL.
    On Fridays and Saturday nights, my husband works a 12 hour night shift.
    She sleeps in here with me.
    Both my babies slept in our room till six months, then out to their own bedrooms.
    My youngest was the longest running interloper.
    I think it was my fault...she is my baby. She is eight....but oh, they grow so fast.
    Someday she will be gone and I won't have a little person reading me spider stories anymore. So I just let her.
    I will miss this.

  3. My children own our room. Until Manly can sleep through the night, on his own, he will not, I repeat, WILL NOT, share a room with his sister. Unless, of course, I really want to get no sleep.

    But, I tell you, as soon as he is "grown-up" enough, he will be sent packing.

    As for our shower and office? HAh! Our solution: don't have one! It works perfectly! (I'm kidding. We would have one, if we lived in a house. Oh, but that time is far away.)

  4. My 12 year old daughter wants to be me. She wears my clothes and shoes. She reads the books I do (or at least tries) and watched all the shows she knows I like. She sits in on any chatting I do with my friends. I guess I can be glad she just recreates all my spaces to the best of her ability instead of trying to hone in on mine!

    Our kids all know we sleep deep enough to not wake up if they crawl into our king size bed at night. Normally only the 3 year old tries, but every once in a while another gives it a chance. I guess the only qualification is they have to be small and light enough to not wake us up when they climb in.

  5. Hi Linda,

    When I went home for the holidays, I found that my dad had taken over my former space (i.e. the bathroom my brothers and I used growing up). Apparently, a plumbing issue affected the water pressure in my parents' bathroom and my dad has taken to showering in "our" bathroom ever since. Sort a reversal of your situation, I guess, and far less intrusive since none of actually lives there anymore. :)

  6. Oh this post speaks to me! In the past few months, my Sweetie and I have reclaimed our room, our space, our relationship as our own. And it has been so good for everyone in the family. Bedtime now means everyone in the family goes to--and stays in--their own beds. Our years of cosleeping were wonderful, and I don't regret them, but the time for a change was obvious, and we are all happy in our new places. (OK OK, occasionally our kids ask if we'll come snuggle with them. But we are staying strong--aware that one night can set up a series of fall backs. And so, we only cave in times of sickness or severe distress.) Thank you for this. And good luck to you!

  7. Hysterical. Husband will win. Unfortunately you'll always be in the middle of the Battle of the Wills!
    Good luck. We are all rootin' for you!

  8. dll - I never thought about how close you and your sisters were! And your mom a single mother! And, yes, it IS too late for siblings! ha ha...

  9. Chris, I'm with you on trying to savor their childhood. I love looking down at a sleeping baby face that won't look so babyish for long.

  10. Ambrosia, you're absolutely right, you can't put a newborn in with a 2-year-old because the baby will keep the 2-year-old up. All you need is a completely awake household in the middle of the night, right?

  11. Charlotte, I do love that imitation thing - I think it's a great compliment to mothers when our daughters try to emulate us instead of rejecting everything we are!

    And Kristen, I also have a strange sense of disorientation when I go to my mother's house and my teenage bathroom now has the accoutrements of my Stepfather. Of course, it used to look weird with my grandparents dentures soaking in cups too!

    Anon - you're right. Husband has protected the sanctity of the Marriage Bed now for nearly 15 years (for his own selfish purposes, I'll add...)

  12. Jen, You are so right. Parents have to have their own bedroom, the kids need their own spaces. There have to be boundaries. Now, if only they didn't treat my room like their private retreat in the daytime...