the smell of my desperation has become a stench

What goes around

Here I am writing yet again from 30,000 feet, headed to California for more work. Last week when I looked at my calendar and saw that I didn’t have to travel I daydreamed about how I might spend that time on the ground, most of it involving me in very tight gold lamé pants sipping a martini and being followed by a herd of tiny yapping terriers with names like Mr. Morgan Freeman and Sir Elton.


And then one by one, every hour of every day got over scheduled. A three-hour meeting followed by a conference call followed by another two-hour meeting across town followed by another conference call followed by a five-person video crew taking over my house. I’m not going to complain. Being busy is always good, right? If you’re not busy then you’re just sitting there enjoying your free time perhaps reading your favorite book and sipping a cold beverage while someone rubs your feet, and wow, do I feel sorry for you.

On Wednesday night, not even halfway through it all, I was so delirious that after I put Leta to bed I crawled into my own and fell asleep at 8:45 while scrolling through an Excel spreadsheet OH SEXY TIMES YEAH. What is the sum of that column, SAY IT LOUDER.

At 9:30 she appeared in my doorway, startled me awake and said she couldn’t sleep. And normally I would have walked her back to her room, put her back in her bed and stroked her hair for a bit because do I need to remind you? I do not sleep with my kids. We are clear on that point, right? You sleep with your kids and it’s a rewarding, nurturing experience. I do not and instead spend that time stabbing Dalmatian puppies.

But I was thinking with an exhausted, sleepy brain and instead told her to climb in bed with me.


Here is where I apologize to my older brother and sister for taking the joy out of all those Christmas Eves they had to spend sharing a bed with me: I’m so, so sorry. Mom never should have put you through that. You should have been resting starry eyed with the thought of a new scooter or Barbie house in your dreams and were instead being perpetually walloped in the face with random, skinny limbs. I pummeled both of you in the chest with my rotating legs. You will be happy to know that you are taking out your revenge in the form of my nine-year-old.

She fell asleep quickly, but a couple of hours into the night it started to happen: the burrowing. The mad, furious burrowing. Like she had just given birth to a litter of starving animals and needed to build a safe, hidden den to protect them from predators. She’d toss and turn, finally find a position that suited her, and then she’d burrow. I don’t know how else to describe it. She was building a structure, and every few minutes or so I’d get knocked in the eye with an elbow or a foot. That’s a hazard of sleeping so close to a construction site, I suppose.

It happened in cycles: thirty minutes of burrowing, thirty minutes of stillness. In the middle of one of the cycles I sat up to ask her what in god’s name was going on and her head was at the foot of the bed. Her feet were up underneath the pillow. She had rotated a full 180 degrees. At another point in the night the lower half of her body was hanging off the side of the bed, her feet and knees resting on the floor. I thought, oh cute. She’s praying.

I cannot count the number of times she hit me with a limb during the night. And I couldn’t tell you what limb it was, an arm or a leg or a knee, maybe it was the shovel she was using to carve a nest out of the mattress.

The sun woke her up at about 6 AM, and she looked over to find me staring wildly at her.

“Hi,” she mumbled as she blinked the sleep out of her eyes.

“Oh, hello,” I said, unable to blink because that would have required energy I did not possess.

“Your bed is so big,” she said, still a little groggy. She swung her arms and legs around to demonstrate how much space there was.

I would have found that totally adorable had it not been an exact mime of what had gone on next to me the entire night. And it gave me flashbacks.

“Yes. Yes it is. You know who else has a big bed? You. You have a big bed. And that is where you will be sleeping tonight.”

“Oh, no,” she said. “Did I sleep crazy?”

“You sleep exactly like I slept when I was your age,” I explained. “So ‘crazy’ is not the word I’m thinking of. Today I’m going to teach you about the word KARMA.”

  • Robin Dearing

    2013/05/20 at 6:57 pm

    I remember waking up with my daughter’s head on my kidney. That was the end of precious co-sleeping.

  • Chelsea Rabbit

    2013/05/20 at 7:38 pm

    This is exactly how my 3.5 year old sleeps. With the added bonus of waking up every night to come find me, so I end up sleeping half the night with him. I’m so tired.

  • Misty Camp

    2013/05/20 at 8:00 pm

    My 6 year old snores..I can-hear-her-from-another-room SNORES! and I’m a little ashamed to admit that it drives me bonkers, and even if she’s sick, I can’t sleep with her unless I have a pair of the noise-blocker head phones on. My 4 year old rocks back and forth over and over and over all during the night. I completely understand the “wild-eyed” stare at 6 a.m.

  • Brea McInnes

    2013/05/20 at 8:44 pm

    This is pretty awesome. And the truth: the romantic notion of a cherub-faced child, quietly sleeping next to you…is a lie.

  • Short and Feisty

    2013/05/20 at 9:08 pm

    I was such a wild sleeper when I was younger and insisted on being sandwiched in between my parents when I came into their bed.

    I have decided that a “family bed” is not for me and I will not be co-sleeping with my little love bugs for fear of Karmic retribution.

  • Patricia H

    2013/05/20 at 9:38 pm

    My mom would employ a preemptive strike in these situations. If we came in during the night wanting to sleep with her she would not tell us “No”(we would start to cry if she told us no). We would be allowed in the bed but she would crowd us to the edge, slide her arm under our head and generally make us uncomfortable. When we complained she would tell us we could always go back to our own, more comfy, beds. We never realized she was doing this on purpose and we quickly realized our beds were the better place to be.

    A few years ago, when I brought up how uncomfortable her bed was she admitted it was all intentional. She even told me how she would poke and prod with her knees and elbows and sometime resort to all out pinching if we fell asleep. While I was momentarily crushed by her confession, I have to admit that her methods worked and we stopped bothering her in middle of the night (unless it was a real need) by the time we were four or five years old.

  • Kristen Clifford

    2013/05/20 at 11:24 pm

    I love when I wake up to find either my five year old or my seven year old in bed with me. But when that happens, I always find my husband NOT in bed with me. Somehow, he always ends up being the one kicked and rolled on. I sleep through it all or something, while he retreats to the couch.

  • edk

    2013/05/21 at 2:17 am

    It is funny when it happens to someone else. I would have gone to her bed once she is asleep.

  • Marley C.

    2013/05/21 at 3:53 am

    When my now 8 year old was a baby he had fits of projectile vomiting. Being so frightened he’d choke on his own vomit, we moved him into our bed…he has never left. One day my husband and I were discussing a near miss we had in our car with a careless bicyclist and were moaning about legal consequences of someone else’s stupidity and my 8 year old asked what happened to people who hit cyclists and I said it depended on several things but it can range from no penalty to fines to jail. He thought for a minute and said, “If you went to jail, how would I go to sleep?”

  • JDG

    2013/05/21 at 9:27 am

    Er, sorry for offering completely unsolicited advice but… I think you should mention the snoring to your pediatrician if you haven’t already. Sleep apnea is surprisingly common in children that age – I work in a pediatric sleep unit.

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/05/21 at 10:30 am

    My son sleeps like a pretzel. Or someone making those big pretzels over and over again. Yeah, like that. Ha. I have one kid who sleeps all peaceful and two who absolutely do not. Mostly…they sleep in their own beds.

  • Diedre

    2013/05/21 at 10:30 am

    I’m all about the pillow barrier. My daughter has been sleeping with me since she was 2, and she’s 5 now. I have an extra pillow that I put in the middle of the bed and tell her she has to stay on her side of it. But now at 5 I’m starting to get her feet in my back and random slaps on the face in the middle of the night, so it’s back to her bed. Our deal was in May I’ll stay with her until she falls asleep, and in June she has to fall asleep on her own. So far, so good.

  • Diedre

    2013/05/21 at 10:42 am

    Seconding JDG’s advice to see a doctor. My niece snored loudly from the time she was little, and she had problems with her tonsils. She eventually had to have her tonsils removed when she was a teenager.

  • Kristen Meere

    2013/05/21 at 2:42 pm

    For various unavoidable reasons, my 9year old has been sleeping in my double bed for the past 7 months. With me. I can completely relate!

  • It'sjustme

    2013/05/21 at 3:45 pm

    I stayed in a microscopic hotel room in France with my daughter. It had twin beds pushed together with a center board. I woke one night to her kicking me in the teeth. There was blood and cursing.
    I feel ya.

  • Tina Beveridge

    2013/05/21 at 5:20 pm

    My mom always made us sleep on the floor if we came in during the night. I let my kids sleep in the bed because we have super cold (rental, no insulation) hardwood floors. Otherwise it would be the floor. My 4 year old is a squirmy sleeper, too.

  • Breanne

    2013/05/22 at 9:20 pm

    I remember sleeping on the floor next to my parents’ bed in elementary school, but I feel like I got bed privileges (mom’s side ONLY) when I was really little.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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