So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

“He’s been crying foreeeeeever.”

“How long are we supposed to let him do this?”

“Five minutes.”

“Well, it’s definitely been five minutes.”

“It’s been one minute . . . one.”

“Oh my gosh. I can’t.”

Thirty seconds later, our son is resting comfortably on me while an episode of The Office plays softly as background music.

“I’ll just nurse him for a few minutes,” I promise as I adjust to make sure he’s safe and secure in my arms. Then I fall asleep five minutes later.

That was five years ago. These days, we’ve added a little wild woman to our family, and even though both kids have their own beds, they expect that if they need it, either mommy or daddy will lay down next to them or let them climb in with us. In the early years of their lives, they expected to sleep with us every night. It wasn’t what we planned, this ongoing evolution of what has come to be known as “cosleeping,” but it is what we do. And for us, it is perfect.

I didn’t read a lot of baby books while I was pregnant. But one of the few I did promised me that I could sleep train my children very quickly and with absolutely no tears. It was just a matter of patience and persistence. It even said this magical process could be done in weeks. Ha. Har, har, hardy har.

When we brought home our son, I was confident. I had a method, and there was very little indication in the book that it might fail. In fact, I don’t think they even fielded that possibility. As long as you left the hospital with a healthy baby, you could do it. Only I couldn’t. No matter how many times I picked up our son, put him to sleep, and placed him back in his crib, he was still awake minutes later. Our doctor, who we really do love by the way, had one piece of extremely useless advice: just let him cry.

So what’s a mama to do? I didn’t want to let him cry. Not because I believe Ferberizers to be some cruel alter-mom breed. It just wasn’t right for me. In that early season of baby rearing when an hour feels like a day and a day feels like a lifetime, I couldn’t imagine enduring night after night of failure. That was why, after about a minute of attempting to follow doctor’s orders, and nearly drowning in the wrongness of it for our family, I scooped up my son, flipped on The Office, and promised to stay awake until he was settled down again. Then fell asleep five minutes later.

We were not intentional about our decision to cosleep. It just happened. In the years that followed, we would endure two divergent reactions to our sleep strategy. Many people would look at us with [very] thinly veiled judgement and try to point out safety statistics in a concerned tone. The rest of the people we talked to would rejoice at the arrival of the word “cosleeping” and immediately begin to gush over us. We were part of their tribe. And you breastfeed, too? Even better! But we felt like frauds, because really, we hadn’t found cosleeping. Cosleeping had found us.

After the first night, where I fell asleep with a peaceful baby in my arms, I realized I really liked having him with us. I talked about that epiphany with my husband, and researched safe ways to continue on in a similar fashion. I did all the soul searching that comes with making a counter cultural decision. And above all, I made sure it would be safe for my child. As all the boxes were checked, I found peace in the arrangement. Not because it was our plan, or because it was right for everyone, but because it was right for us and it worked better than our original plan.

Here’s what I hope you take away from our story: I hope you realize every decision you make should be right for your family. Only you know the unique personalities and needs at play in your home. Listen to your instincts. Trust your heart. Of course, be safe and use wisdom, but know that for every person who agrees with you, there will be two who don’t. That’s just the way parenting works.

Some parts of your parenting approach will be planned. They will be things you read about or saw or experienced in your childhood. You’ll know what you want to do and that will work perfectly. Other times, you’ll stumble into a way of life you never expected. When you do, think of us, the accidental cosleepers, and remember that nothing is ever really an accident.

Nicole M. Burrell

I have worked as a writer for the Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey and as a Marketing Team Leader, with a focus on social media strategies, for Whole Foods Market. I currently work as a freelance writer, most recently publishing works with Reader's Digest. Instagram . Facebook . Twitter . Website .  Pinterest

I’m Giving My Kids the Summer Fun I Never Had

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys playing in the waves on the beach, color photo

I love that my kids hate school. Stay with me here . . . Yes, I absolutely love that year after year, my boys cannot wait to ditch school for summer break, that they endlessly bemoan the academic year and cannot wait for June.  I love it because it is normal. I love it because it means they enjoy being at home and implies that I make summers fun for them, or, rather, allow summers to be fun for them. I love it because I always dreaded summers when I was growing up. Dreaded them with knots in my stomach...

Keep Reading

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

The Only Way to Freeze Time Is to Take the Picture—So I’ll Take as Many as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two kids sitting in wagon, color photo

Life ebbs and flows. Seasons come and go. One of the reasons I take so many photos is because they are the only way to make time stand still. They provide a nostalgia that can’t compete with anything else. They help us remember the exact moment captured and show us how fast time is fleeting. It doesn’t matter if their texture is glossy or matte. It doesn’t matter if they are in a frame or on a screen. It doesn’t matter if they are professional or if someone’s thumbprint is in the upper corner. All that matters is the moment...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!


Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime