By Holly Hester
I have never been able to get my kids to sleep in their own beds. For the past five years, I have been sleeping in a pile of children.
Let me start by saying this story doesn't include my son Buck. He likes to sleep in his own bed and for that I am forever grateful. But Emerson, from the moment she was born, would emit a screaming banshee noise several times a night that made her sound like she was being attacked by wolves (or stolen by dingoes). So after a while, my husband, Bill, and I just had Emmy sleep with us so we could soothe her (i.e. try to get her to shut up) without having to get out of bed 40 times a night. And then August was born and we quickly discovered that he cried 24 hours a day--it was like I had given birth to a toy baby whose "scream" button was stuck in the On position. So then every night in our bed we had two children who sounded like they needed exorcisms. We never slept. We were just on survival mode for years. Things got better, but the kids never left our bed; they just kept growing and growing while our bed got smaller and smaller...
This is where the hillbilly part comes in.
About a year ago, I got the bright idea of putting a bunch of mattresses in our loft and letting the four of us sleep up there. It would give us more room and quite possibly a better night's sleep. I did not advertise this arrangement--you know, that we sleep like a bunch of drug addicts on mattresses thrown on the floor. I kept this embarrassing family nut all to myself. It had a lot of company with all the other embarrassing family nuts I store. (At this point I'm like a squirrel carrying dysfunctional family stories.)
Then recently, I decided I had had enough. I wanted my bed back. I wanted to sleep in it with just my husband. What a novel concept. So, working a little reverse-psychology manipulation, I told Em and Aug, "Congrats! You are such big kids now you have earned brand-new beds!"
Then we went mattress shopping for insanely high-priced organic mattresses, and the very non-hippie, super-conventional, saleslady asked Emerson, "So you must be excited. You're getting a brand-new bed!"
And then, Emerson said, "Yes. I don't have a bed. I sleep in a bed with my Mommy, my Daddy, and my brother."
And there was my nut, rolling around the mattress store.
The saleslady's smile froze in horror. The other customers in the store stared at the 8-year-old who just stated that she lives like a child in the Ozarks in the 1930s.
Desperate to remove myself from the situation, I started to rifle through my purse as if I'd lost some vital CIA documents. Meanwhile, Buck decided to not only further explain how we all sleep, but also to mention that our pig sleeps in the house, too.
Cue banjo music.
Our new mattresses are going to be ready this week, and I'm not going to be the one to pick them up.
Because I'm never going back to that store again.
Holly Hester lives in Sebastopol and writes about life on her blog, Riot Ranch. Find her book, Escape from Ugly Mom Island!, on Amazon.