we have the biggest family bed around. a king with a twin pushed next to it. go ahead, roll your eyes if you need to. i do it too sometimes. family beds are great- except when they suck.
they suck when your toddler won't stop flipping blankets off of you. and the other child starts talking in his sleep in words clear enough to perk curiosity but not clear enough to render any comprehension. they suck when your back aches and you fear if you flip over someone will awake and want something- maybe. so you lay there trying to decide if it's better to be warm and in pain or forced to walk on the cold floor for a cup of milk that will not be touched until three days later when it has a yogurt-esque appearance- and when you flush it down the toilet the child will wail "my milk!" loud enough to cause the neighbors to flinch.
but then other times the children sleep so deeply they cannot be awaken to see the lunar eclipse they made you promise they could or watch the snow that is blanketing the yard with a playground of white or get in the car for the pre-dawn ride to the airport. their bodies are limp, gleaming with sweat and weigh fifty pounds more than they did at bedtime. you realize they could sleep through any number of traumatic events, as long as you don't tip-toe to the bathroom during it.
me, i can't sleep through anything now. now i awake with an electric start at the slightest shift in sheets with a fuzzy-but-frantic "wha?!" as i pull the closest child into me for protection from...nothing. i lay there in the dark, heart-thumping, trying to figure out if they woke up, or something fell of the wall- a screw giving way in the moonlight, or there was an earthquake or tsunami or...nothing. of course, going back to sleep at that point is tricky. fifty-fifty chance: making it back to slumberville or getting up to eat toast and watch a movie.
i remember the first time i slept away from seren when he was about 3 - for a out of town conference- and i slept like a rock in a deep cool stream covered in green moss. solid. i woke up like those princesses- eye fluttering, cheeks rosie, and ready to slay the dragon- all my princesses slay dragons.
two years into The Age of Cyrus i am yearning for the rock-solid slumber. i don't want dreams interrupted by cold chills on my back or teeth grinding. i want waking up without any sense or where i am or how long i have been asleep- where you look outside at the gray sky and cannot tell if it's dawn or dusk because you internal clock has been blissfully unaware of time for long enough that it also went to sleep. sometimes i want it so badly i scorn the whole concept of a family bed.
there are moments- so many- that i never would have experienced had it not been for the family bed. the thousand of times i have been awe-struck and breathless by the beauty of my children asleep. the impossible lengths of their eyelashes as they lay still atop their flushed cheeks. the arch of their eyebrows at peace. the distance from me to their feet- which grows steadily farther and farther away.
even more so than this adoration of my boys are some things i cannot explain. for example, one morning i woke up from a dream which had a white dog in it. a dog i was not familiar with and, in truth, i remember nothing about the dream or the dog. the only reason i remember "white dog" was because as i woke up from my dream, my sleepy seren - then maybe 3 years old- began to chatter about a white dog. still a perplexing incident.
then when pregnant with cyrus i remember laying there and watching my belly twitch with his strong kicks- at the exact moment that seren, curled next to me, twitched in his sleep. for a few seconds they both did this, back and forth, like a dance. even now there are nights when they seem to be talking to each other in their dreams. one sighs and then the other. one grunts, mumbles and then the other replies. it's this connection that i witness, yet have no words to explain.
fortunately, i have to describe it though and they help me to remember this connection i share with these brown boys i birthed from my body into my bed, this enormously vast bed- a big family nest alive with soft feathers, poking sticks and chirping birds.