This morning, I sat and sipped my coffee for a few quiet minutes before I had to get my kids up and out the door. I walked up the stairs and opened the door to a room, paused and smiled, watching five of my children (and two dogs) as they slept. Some were on beds, a couple on the floor. After I watched them for a bit, I woke them as gently as I could manage. As those bleary-eyed creatures made their way out of the room one by one, I was reminded how lucky I am. And, yet, also, how lucky they are to have each other.
You might be surprised to hear we live in a pretty big house that we found as a pre-foreclosure right after having our sixth baby. We have six bedrooms and lots of space, more than we need, really. And, yet, more nights than not, most of my kids pile in the same room at bedtime.
In case you’re wondering, I love it.
We have two girls and four boys. Our girls are six years apart and now have their own rooms (though they shared for many years), but the boys are all together in a room with a triple bunk bed and another twin bed. When we moved, we told the boys that they could decide how to split up into two rooms, and the cry was unanimous: “Stay together!” So we let them, even though we wondered if they’d later change their minds. My younger daughter is an extrovert like her mama and doesn’t really like sleeping alone or having her own room and so typically opts to camp out on her brothers’ floor for the night.
This has been amazing for the relationships between my kiddos. One of my favorite things as a mom has been to stand outside their door late at night, eavesdropping on their conversations. Because there are always four or five of them in there, it can be loud for quite a while before they fall asleep. And I hear all sorts of things: dreams for the future, sheepish admissions about crushes, stupid jokes, complaints about my parenting, school frustrations, conflict in a friendship . . . and so much more. It is precious to me to hear my kids bonding like this, giving advice, laughing, and commiserating.
To answer your question: yes. Yes, they fight. Plenty. And, yes, it can be exhausting. But I love what they’re building, and I don’t want to give in to the modern idea that each human NEEDS this certain amount of space. I really don’t think humans were made to sleep alone unless they have to. It’s great that we have all this space, but we don’t need six bedrooms. We need each other.
There will come a day when they decide to spread out and split up. While that will probably make me a little sad, I’ll honor that if we still have the space. But, for now, I’m enjoying where they are. The memories they are making will be priceless someday when they’re grown and gone. And, I know that siblings can absolutely form good, healthy, strong relationships without sharing a room. I’m not arguing that what we’re doing is essential, just that it’s good for us. The leaning, depending, trusting that I hope will last forever has started in all those late-night conversations.