When I was little girl I was petrified of being alone. Every night one of my parents would lie down with me, scratch my back and sing until I fell asleep. I'd wake hours later screaming from night terrors that lasted years. The same recurring dreams that still, to this day, haunt me. Every night I'd fall asleep outside my parent's door. Just to be close to them. To someone. So when we became pregnant with Fable and her sharing a room with Archer was our only option, it didn't bother me
Sure, I'd covet the homes I saw with meticulously decorated nurseries and bedrooms with personalized door hangers, stenciled walls - hoped our children wouldn't resent us for cramming them together in the only room that could accommodate them. But that was just me looking elsewhere instead of within. My instinct was always to put them in the same space - regardless of whether they were same sex or not. Because a small child is a small child and there's no real difference between a boy sharing a room with his sister and a boy sharing a room with his brother - not when they're four and one or five and two.
So when we moved last May and our space doubled, Archer and Fable continued to share a room, our third bedroom became the playroom - where toys and games and the guest futon lived in harmonious chaos.
I recently asked Archer whether he wanted his own room and he said, unequivocally, no. His sister needed him and he needed her, he told me. And I started to think what I would have done differently if we had the option of space when Fable was born. It was easy to think putting the kids together was the right decision when it was the only decision we had to make but what if we had the option to give them each their own room from the get? Surely, we would have separated them, like my parents did when we were kids, like most parents do when space permits.
But where does it come from - this assumption that we must separate our children from one another, especially when small? Why each child demands their own fully-furnished nursery, bedroom, space. Are we not social creatures? I hated being alone as a child and for what? There was no reason that I couldn't have shared a room with my brother. It wasn't like I needed my privacy at three-years-old. Or four or six.
I would have loved to share a room with my brother as a small child. I wouldn't have spent so many nights afraid, curled up outside my parents door. I watch the way Archer and Fable are with one another, listen to them talk to each other before bed - singing together, laughing, and sort of regret not having those memories with my siblings. For them, every night's a slumber party. They are learning what it means to be in a relationship with someone, to compromise. Forging a bond as those who dream side by side. Someday it will end but for now? I can't imagine splitting them up.
Many new parents have emailed me over the years about sharing rooms, knowing I have written about Archer and Fable's sleeping situation before. Do they still share a room? How long until you separate them?
A few months back I told Archer that when he feels like he would like his own bedroom to let me know.
"Eventually the playroom will be your room," I said. "When you want it to be."
"But I like sharing a room with Fable," he said. "Maybe when I'm ten or something I'll change my mind."