My parenting approach is a blend of life experience mixed with intense psychotherapy and research. The psychotherapy was undertaken to help me identify and break destructive familial chains and find alternative methods for dealing with emotions than were modeled for me. I still struggle but have my fingers crossed that in life, 4 out of 4 (my quartet) hits it out of the park.
On the research side, I had enrolled in a child development program to learn about the various ages, stages and methods for teaching and parenting. I found resonance in the theory of attachment parenting and it is what I practiced with all of my children. While not for everyone it certainly felt the most natural to me. If married, or in an otherwise intimate relationship, this type of parenting requires a true understanding and agreement as to of the scope of attachment and related methods of execution. As an understatement, it is an immensely intense way to go.
This leads me to co-sleeping. Even though the days of bedside bassinets are sadly over, my daughter (7 years old), still occasionally chooses to sleep with me or her father, depending on her disposition, even though she has a pretty awesome princess bed. We don’t discourage it. Sooner than we might think, she’ll want nothing to do with either of us.
Early one morning, around 1am I was working and heard a loud thump from the neighboring room. I knew immediately a body had fallen to the ground and in the same instance knew it was my daughters father. I walked into the bedroom and did not see him in the bed so walked into the bathroom. The bathroom door was shut and his body weight was partially positioned against the door, making it difficult to open. He was slumped in the corner, unconscious. I checked first to see that he was breathing and he was. I called to him and tried to wake him but he was non-responsive. I ran out to get my cell and call 911, glancing briefly at my daughter who was in the bed sleeping peacefully.
I ran back to the bathroom to observe him while talking to the 911 operator and after several more minutes he began to gain consciousness. I attempted to adjust him into a position that would allow him to breath without being slumped over but was not physically strong enough. He tried to talk but his words were garbled and his eyes were spacey. I spoke slowly, told him that he had fallen, that paramedics were on their way and that he was not to try and get up. I asked him to nod if he understood and he did.
I left him briefly to walk down the hallway and close the bedroom doors where my sons were sleeping before I began turning on lights both upstairs and downstairs. I was hoping the paramedics would not come with sirens on and that my kids would sleep through the incident.
An ambulance, fire truck and five paramedics arrived ten minutes later, lights flashing and sirens silenced. I walked them to the bathroom where they moved him from the floor to transfer him to the bed, next to my sleeping daughter. At this point, the bedroom lights were on and the paramedics were surrounding the bed, taking notes, asking questions and setting up an EKG machine to see if her father had or was having a heart attack. All sounds were reminiscent of the hubbub one might hear in a hospital emergency room, complete with walkie-talkie transmissions.
My daughter stirred, sat up, rubbed her eyes and looked around. Every man in the room stood eerily frozen in space, silent in time and stared at her, even the one in the process of attaching the EKG electrodes to her fathers chest right next to her. She stopped scanning when she spotted me. I looked into her eyes and smiled. I said to her in the calmest voice I could muster, “You are dreaming, sweetheart. Go back to sleep.” She returned my smile, turned her back to her father, put her head down on the pillow and returned to sleep. Everyone immediately went back to work. When I asked her much later that morning if she remembered, she said did not.
Although the scene lent itself to a dream, the simplest explanation for making my suggestion easy to accept, I look back and wonder:
- Did the trust built in co-sleeping contribute to her ability to be comforted by what I said, against what she clearly saw?
- Are children natural lucid dreamers, and if so, what other realities had she experienced?
- What is really meant by Psalm 90 verse 5, “Our life is like a dream that ends when morning comes.”?
What am I grateful for?
- A new appreciation for the frailties of the human brain.
- A new appreciation for the mystical blending of wakefulness and dream states.
- Having been prepared to have grace under pressure.
- The layers of peace surrounding this surreal experience.
- The opportunity given to fully and deeply practice all elements of attachment parenting.
- Three boys that drive me nuts but still take ten minutes to kiss, hug and pray with me every evening before going to ‘sleep’.
- A daughter that is truly sugar and spice.