So, who slept where?

by singlemomseeking on August 31, 2009

You have no idea how much I wish I’d posted a little something about my Sleeping Arrangements before my trip.

Wow, I could have really used your right-on advice before I’d packed my bags and flown across the Pacific. (As I just read your comments over again, I kept thinking, “Why hadn’t I thought of that?”). In fact, this topic has generated some very lengthy conversations recently with that Lucky Guy — talks lasting even longer than that time we had our Facebook fight.

Here’s where I went wrong from the start: I didn’t have a plan.

When we’d first reserved our little condo in Hanalei, I should have looked carefully at the bed situation and come up with a solid course of action.

After reading about my sleeping dilemma this weekend, Dr. Leah from Singlemommyhood shot off an email to me. First, she gently teased me about the fact that, before I know it, M will be off to college, where she’ll probably sleep on a college dorm bed similar to that cot. Who knows? She might even beg me to go away for Spring Break with her girlfriends, assuring me that she’s fine about sleeping on a bare floor.

“Balking at sleeping on the cot in Hawaii had nothing to do with the cot,”
explained Dr. Leah.

“M was testing the limits. She likely felt a bit of competition with LG. M is used to having Rachel’s undivided attention. And kids sense our vulnerabilities. M was aware that Rachel had great difficulty with their separation despite Rachel’s stellar airport performance. M didn’t need the all-night physical attachment to Rachel. Rachel may have longed for it, especially since M had grown up quite a lot during her solo vacation. But these were Rachel’s needs  — not M’s needs.”

Dr. Leah went on to point out that: “Sleeping arrangements are an adult decision.”

Oh, yes, I’m the grown up here. It was up to ME to decide that that adults would sleep in the bedroom with the locked door — and my child would sleep on the cot in the living room. Before boarding the plane, I should have sat M down and mapped out the plan like this:

Sleeping Map

I’m embarrassed to say how it really played out: we played musical beds. Yes, LG spent a night on the sofa and another night on the cot (I know, I know), and M fell asleep on the floor one night from pure exhaustion… so he and I did get to share the big bed. (If you’re wondering if he and I fooled around at all after-hours, there’s nothing at all to wonder about.)

Although setting boundaries is still sometimes a struggle, Dr. Leah is encouraging me to change. “You need to show her how to share attention, cope with a bit of disappointment, and accommodate the wishes of others” says Dr. Leah. “This will contribute much to your kid’s happiness and success in adulthood.”

To those of you who want to bop me on the head right now, go ahead. I can take it.

To those of you who are struggling with similar issues when it comes to setting boundaries, I’d love to hear about them.


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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Crazy Computer Dad September 1, 2009 at 3:05 am

:-) Those of us in glass houses don’t throw stones, or at least we shouldn’t! Just another learning experience…I have them all the time. Glad all of you had a great time on the trip though!

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Nicki September 1, 2009 at 3:11 am

Chalk it up to a learning experience. I have them ALL THE TIME. Family vacations can be stressful regardless of whether or not everyone has a genetic or marital link. You’ll all survive this and look back on it and laugh. And love and laughter heal everything. Yes, everything.
.-= Nicki´s last blog ..August State of the Blog Address =-.

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Priscilla San Remo September 1, 2009 at 8:37 am

Glad you had a great trip overall. I think it’s always best to address these issues while kids are young, or they become big problems in later years. I’m currently dating a wonderful man whose 19-year-old (!) daughter doesn’t like him to have overnight guests while she’s sleeping at his house. I’ve been trying (gently) to help him see this was a pattern she set up in middle school, when he was dating her music teacher (ouch), and now it has grown out of hand. It’s not much of a logistical problem, since the daughter spends so much time at her mom’s house, but I won’t have it keep us from going on vacation as a family or keep us from being together if something should happen and she couldn’t stay at her mom’s for an extended period.

Mom has remarried and obviously has an intimate relationship with her husband. Daughter needs to see that Dad can have that too. He’s slowly coming around, but I think there might be an uncomfortable conversation in their future that could have been avoided if he had set some boundaries at a younger age.

Meanwhile my one and only has fledged the nest and is sleeping on that lumpy dorm mattress–no complaints. I only cried once during his departure (his dad took him to school). I’m planning on downsizing and selling the house he grew up in, and he said he was really going to miss it at Christmas. The memory of all those holidays put me over the edge. Just fair warning: it doesn’t necessarily get any easier as they get older!

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singlemomseeking September 1, 2009 at 8:39 am

Oh, Priscilla: your comment has me all weepy!!

I DO see that if I don’t deal with this now — setting boundaries — it’s only going to get more intense as my daughter gets older. So true.

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Amy September 1, 2009 at 8:56 am

I don’t think you should beat yourself up, Rachel. And to be totally honest – I am not sure this was really an issue of boundaries and of M testing the limits. I do agree – that her not wanting to sleep on the cot had nothing to do with the cot. If it was completely about the cot and that she wanted the larger more comfortable bed – then I don’t think there would be a question – she would sleep on the cot.

And as far as M not needing the all night physical attachment – no I suppose she isn’t a tiny baby anymore (although plenty of people don’t even believe babies require all night physical attachment) – BUT my observation would be that she needed something. I guess I’m just uncomfortable seeing the situation being tied up all neat and tidy – as a kids are attention seeking, don’t like change, play on our vulnerabilities and then its up to us to set boundaries scenario. I just think it could be more complicated than that.

.-= Amy´s last blog ..Journal 130: August 2009 *sigh* =-.

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singlemomseeking September 1, 2009 at 9:01 am

Amy: Thanks for reminding me that this situation is not “all neat and tidy.” That’s the danger of trying to put it all down in a short blog post. There are many feelings there.

No doubt, I was feeling vulnerable that first night after being reunited with M — and she saw right through that. She’s a very perceptive kid, and she could tell how deeply I missed her. She’s also the kind of kid who can’t stand to miss out on any party — and doesn’t like to be alone. Thanks for the insight.

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Katherine SOLOdotmom September 1, 2009 at 10:18 am

Some really great feedback here.

Now for me, I would have done the sleeping arrangements differently – but for personal reasons. I just don’t want my kiddos to have sleepovers with their significant others until marriage…. I know I am admittedly traditional and probably in the minority here… and definitely not perfect, but I just don’t want them to do that in their later years so I elect not to do so even on our vacations together with my BF.

But please understand Rachel, this is no slam to you or reflection on your choices; everybody feels differently about this issue. I just wanted to share my personal choice in this matter.
.-= Katherine SOLOdotmom´s last blog ..I Loathe Having These =-.

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Honey September 1, 2009 at 10:18 am

I think I was banned from my parents’ bed by the time I was 5 – and my sister got banned at the same time I did, so she would have been 3. I have some very, very vague memories of being allowed to wake them up on Sunday mornings, but that’s it, and that was definitely over by the time I was 8 or 9. Me and my sister’s bedroom wasn’t even on the same floor as my parents’ room.

I liked people’s “when you can pay for it you can sleep where you want” comments! I can imagine my dad saying that to eight-year-old me :-) What I do think is funny is that the BF and I have to sleep separately when we visit his grandmother in Illinois, despite the fact that not only have we lived together for 2 years at this point, he had a PREVIOUS live-in girlfriend that they also met. I mean, it’s not like we’re going to get it on at grandma’s house, even if we are in the same bed!
.-= Honey´s last blog ..A Love Styles Exercise =-.

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Michele September 1, 2009 at 10:49 am

I thought I was the only one who struggled with this. I’ve been dating the same man for six years and he has never slept at my house when my kids (now,14 and 19) were there. I just didn’t want to send the wrong message. However, in June we rented a house on the beach with three bedrooms. We knew what the arrangements were but I had to break it to my daughter once we got there. She was relaxing in the Master bedroom watching television and when it was time to go to bed I asked her to vacate. She happily complied and then she stopped short and said, “Are you both sleeping in here?” I said, “Yes we are.” It was weird, but after six years she has to realize that we sleep together … doesn’t she?

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GLSD September 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

So glad you had a great vacation! I’m sure this is all new for you, LG and M. Setting boundaries now is very important. M will adjust accordingly. Kids are stronger than what we think!

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Martini Mom September 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Oh, this is making me laugh. Not AT you of course… WITH you. Parenting is so much easier in hind sight, isn’t it? ;)
.-= Martini Mom´s last blog ..An homage =-.

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Amy Sue Nathan September 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm

For what it’s worth I think you did the right thing. If this is a long-haul serious relationship with LG at some point you will tell M that you and he will be sharing a room BEFORE you embark on an overnight together. I would hope you want her to know that you don’t just share a bed with anyone (whether we do or not is our business, but it’s our job to send the right message via our visible actions, to our children) that you share a bed when there is commitment and love.

I’m old fashioned. Maybe it’s why I’m still single!! :-P
.-= Amy Sue Nathan´s last blog ..My sixth sense =-.

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singlemomseeking September 1, 2009 at 4:39 pm

@ Amy Sue: I was hoping you’d chime in… and I had a feeling you’d say the above.

Single parents write to ask me this all the time: So, when is it okay to have someone you’re dating sleepover in your bed — when your kid is at home, sleeping in the other room?

I wish I had the answer. LG and I have been dating for more than six months now. If anyone has any insight about this one, please comment!

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Lovebabz September 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

First of all there will be NO BOPPING YOU ON THE HEAD! No harm no foul. This is unchattered waters…and there are bound to be mistakes and missteps. SHIT! You are my road map! I am learning from you…YES! See some good came out of this…I am planning mindfully and if you didn’t have this experience I wouldn’t know to plan ahead mindfully. So you have saved a great many of US single moms! You and Dr. Leah ROCK! so go easy baby…you did good and you will do what is needed next time. And there will be next times!
.-= Lovebabz´s last blog ..TRUE LOVE TUESDAY: BUIDLING A BONDING LOVE PART 1 =-.

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Legal Editor Mom September 1, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Rachel you know I don’t agree with your sleeping with your boyfriend in M’s presence, but I do agree that it is totally your decision what the arrangements are, and not hers. While you love her and want to keep her happy, you are the parent and absolutely have to set the guidelines NOW, or else face bigger problems later. So the trip was a bit bumpy. You live and you learn. Overall it turned out ok, and you know what to do next time.

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Cat September 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm

It sounds like a learning experience (and by blogging, hopefully you’ve made it so others will avoid this situation too!) At least you know what to do next time. I’m still cosleeping, so no boundary issues there… just me and my boy for now. Someday though…
.-= Cat´s last blog ..Single Mom Books =-.

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SDMktg September 1, 2009 at 11:43 pm

I’m not surprised that the experience generated lengthy conversations. Sleeping on the couch can feel a lot like rejection regardless of the situation and vacations often have high expectations attached to them.

I don’t think there’s any kind of “right” time for significant others to spend the night. For some people that answer would be never. For me it’s more about trust, love, and commitment.
.-= SDMktg´s last blog ..Tailgating Safety =-.

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MindyMom/Single Mom Says... September 2, 2009 at 9:40 am

I think this process (of setting boundaries) may be harder for you than many since you and M have been *a team* since day one and there have been very few instances of sharing your self/time/space quite like you are now with LG.

And LG deserves a medal for dealing with it like he did! Next time you know what to do. ;)
.-= MindyMom/Single Mom Says…´s last blog ..Do Men Want to be Pursued? =-.

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Lance September 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

You didn’t fool around after hours? Bummer.
.-= Lance´s last blog ..Couple Use Emoticons To Replace Intimacy and Affection In Their Relationship ;-) =-.

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singlemomseeking September 2, 2009 at 9:48 am

@Lance: Bummer for sure! But remember that we had almost a full week ALONE before this…

@Mindy Mom: I’m working on that medal for LG. He does deserve one.

@LEM: I always appreciate hearing your thoughts.

I’m still super curious to know how you “arrange” sleepovers with your guy. How do you make it work so that your love life doesn’t overlap with your parenting life? Do tell!

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BigLittleWolf September 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

This is why you have TWO kids. You make these (minor, learning) mistakes on Kid #1. Then you make OTHER mistakes on Kid #2.

And my Kid #1 is now sleeping on a lumpy dorm cot 900 miles away as well. But his brother is picking up the slack already, in the Give-Mom-More-Gray-Hair-Faster campaign. It must’ve been a sibling pact.

BTW, I think sleepovers are much easier when kids are younger, it’s tween and early teens that get tricky… just my 2 euros.
.-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..What do you do when a kid won’t talk? =-.

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Legal Editor Mom September 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm

I love what Katherine Solodotmom said. (And Amy Sue and Deesha, previously.) After my parents divorced (when I was 16), my mom dated but never allowed a man to sleep over. Even when she married my stepdad six years ago, she didn’t move in with him until after their wedding. Of course at this point it was no longer about me, but about her personal values, and to me she is the epitome of a lady. So I choose to emulate her actions now that I have a young daughter who’s very impressionable.

As far as how I make it work, it’s all about choices, and of course sacrifices. We have a guest room, and the bf uses it. I will not entertain male sleepovers or co-habitate while my daughter is underage, unless I remarry. Of course I have needs, but the image my daughter has of me is more important to me right now. So we are together when she is not at home. Period. I spelled this out in the beginning, he accepted it with no problem, and he respects me for it. (And you can believe that on the nights that we are together, it is AWESOME!) I too realize that I may be in the minority here, but this is my preference and it works for us.

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Kat Wilder September 2, 2009 at 11:04 pm

After a few years together, Sean still doesn’t sleep over when The Kid is with me, nor I when he has his daughter.

I wouldn’t feel comfortable, he wouldn’t feel comfortable and the kids — and both are teenagers — don’t feel comfortable. They might say they’re OK with it, but I think, underneath, they’re not totally.

But, my situation is different than yours; I am a 50-50 co-parent, so I have lots of time to myself and for sleepovers ;-) . It’s harder when you have a child all the time, and when the child’s dad isn’t a big part of her life, and they can feel odd about other men intheir mom’s life.

Please don’t take this as judgment, but six months is when I would introduce a man to my child, not have sleepovers or go away together. But, like Amy Sue, I’m old-fashioned. Or maybe too cautious. Perhaps, a little neurotic. Goodness, maybe all three!
.-= Kat Wilder´s last blog ..Two women, one man — can this end well? =-.

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amymarie September 3, 2009 at 5:46 am

It probably goes without saying that I can be pretty old fashioned about this. I haven’t had a male guest unless Sadie is sound asleep and he leaves before the sun comes up – meaning she never knows the difference. Or if she spends the night at her Mimi’s. I am in the same situation of not having the other parent around – so there is no weekend off for me. And so I know it is hard.

As for ever bed sharing with a man while she is around – I just don’t think I’ll do it unless things were VERY serious and this was going to be a permanant thing. Although I know you can never know that for sure. Time can be a good indicator to start with. So I wil likely take my time introducing anyone – and then even way longer before I share a bed with him while she is in the house.

But I kept my virginity for my husband as well – and I was 23. So I qualify as really old fashioned. My opinions may be completely out of date.
.-= amymarie´s last blog ..Journal 131: September 2009 Small Success vs Big Failures =-.

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Jenn September 3, 2009 at 6:32 am

I am awful with boundaries; I understand them, in concept.

It’s just that I lack the ability to enforce them in reality, when I know that my child will only be a child for so long and really, shouldn’t I give her what she wants now, before she finds out what the world is really made of?

Don’t answer that.

I know the answer.

I just don’t want to hear it. That is MY boundary. (I’m good with that one.)
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..Five Feet Tall =-.

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MC September 3, 2009 at 10:06 am

When to have your guy sleep over while your kids are with you?

It’s a question I wrestle with. So far, I haven’t done it–because I haven’t found a man I’m that serious about yet. But I know it’s going to come up sometime! Especially for someone like me who absolutely *doesn’t* want to rush into marriage again (if ever).

I read all these divorce and dating books when I first got divorced, but I’m convinced now they are mostly full of ***. I’ve found that the “date 6 months before introducing him to your kids” advice is not very practical, so I figure the “never let him sleep over” advice is probably similarly problematic.

Re the 6 months rule: this rule seems to assume that you are only ever *casually* dating any man–that you date men but have no interest at all in whether or not a particular man would ever fit into your family. Personally, that’ not how/why I date. Why would I bother to date someone for 6 whole months but not try to get close to him? Excluding him from meeting my family would keep me from getting close to him. I can’t imagine getting very close to a man (or any friend, actually) *without* having them meet my kids. My kids are a big deal to me, but they don’t exist in a hermetically sealed vacuum away from my work friends, neighbors, and everyone else in my life. I don’t think it hurts my kids to meet people in general, so why would meeting a BF be so traumatic? In fact, one guys I dated for a while started out as a friend of our family for several years, so he already knew my kids (oops!) I do wonder what the “6 monthers” would do in that situation?!

Also, how a man reacts to kids tells you a lot about him. And if he’s willing/eager to meet your kids at all also tells you a lot about the relationship’s potential. I don’t want to fall for a guy who hates my kids!

Regarding the sleeping-over thing (if it ever comes up for me), I’m going to do it. Obvs, you wouldn’t want your children to note that you are sleeping with dozens of men. But a man you’re in a committed relationship with, and you’re both serious about it, and you’ve been together for a significant amount of time–why not?

I think modelling responsible and healthy dating behavior will probably be a lot more useful to my children than pretending to them that women/their mom never dates.

I want my children to feel comfortable discussing dating and sex with me as they grow up–and how will they do this if they think I never date or have sex?

I want them to be able to make good decisions about these normal parts of life, instead of denying they exist and then feeling like the have to get married to the first guy they have a crush on or have sex with.

Re vacationing together–my own feeling (I know others might not agree) is that it’s not fair to the guy to ask him to spend his vacation days with you and your family and contribute financially to the vacation, and then to turn around and banish him as if he’s an outsider. Even if you don’t feel comfortable having sex with your children sleeping nearby, I think you have to let him into your bed at night! He would need some face-to-face exclusive time with you, and the closeness, I’d think. Especially if you usually spend every night together when you’re at home. At least, that’s how I would feel. I would not want to go on a vacation with my boyfriend and his children, never get any time alone with him, and then get shuffled off to the couch at the end of the day. Ugh! I’d rather just stay home alone and work, or go off to see my family or on a vacation with my GFs. (Just my opinion)

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Priscilla San Remo September 8, 2009 at 8:24 pm

All good points. You said exactly what I would have, MC.

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T September 8, 2009 at 9:11 am

How did I miss this post?

Well, I’m glad to see that you guys worked it out. Apparently, he is a very understanding guy as well as lucky. :)

I’m thinking of you. And yes, boundaries. We all need to set them. Me included! I have children who follow me everywhere and expect me to entertain them constantly so um… yeah. I get this.

Miss you honey!
.-= T´s last blog ..Honesty? Honestly?! =-.

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