My body aches. All the time. My neck, my back, my rump – all sore and creeky 24/7, even after many, vigorous massage sessions via the bony hands of a cute Korean girl (my wife).
For over 3 years it’s been like this (which, ironically, is in parallel to my current tour of duty as a dad) . I rarely feel fresh, virile, or verdant anymore. For the span of over 1,000 days my bones have felt like glass and my muscles of frozen meat. In a nutshell, I hurt.
Am I unknowingly a zombie with limited decay and good teeth? Probably not. I still want to kiss my wife, not eat her.
Am I just working out too hard at the gym in order to maintain a perfect, Hollywood physique? Absolutely not. I have not worked out a day in the gym in over 3 years. And as such, I am well on my way of disproving the myth that Asian guys don’t have butts. This baby’s got some back. Come touch my creation if you wish. All of it.
All joking aside, I do know why I have felt so rickety for over the past 1,000 days – I do not sleep on a bed.
Yes, I do not sleep on a bed. I sleep on the floor. I have become a well-acquainted bedfellow with cold drafts, curious, nocturnal insects, and the hard ground. Why? Because my 3 year old has unintentionally banished me from the soft, plush pillow-top palace and down onto a place where only smelly feet dare tread and dried boogers quietly rest. This most certainly is not a 5 star destination. And yet I am forced to burrow in this discomfort nightly. And I do so by choice.
You see, I live in a small, 1,144 square foot condo in West LA. It’s rather tiny, especially for a family of four. But it wasn’t always this cramped. Prior to having kids, my wife and I had more than enough space to live, eat, relax, and, on special occasions, wrestle in our two bed, two bath flat. But once Gen2 started popping out, things got tight really fast. It’s rather similar to the pictures you seen of an entire Asian family cruising the streets of Bangkok stacked atop a moped. But in this particular case, that moped is my home.
After many failed attempts at sleeping logistics, Korean wife and I discovered that the path of greatest sleep (barely) for the family masses is for me to bunk with my 3 year old in the guest quarters while she sleeps with the newborn in the master. This marks the beginning of how I ended up playing and losing the game of musical bed with my 3 year old daughter.
When compared to a queen-sized bed, a 3 year old should take up no more than 1/16 of the sleep area. A grown adult, about 1/4. There should be plenty of room for father and baby daughter to sleep on a bed together in quiet comfort, right? Yes, unless, of course your daughter somehow possess the hidden DNA of an epileptic cougar. I tell you, this little, yellow smurf circumnavigates the Serta endless times a night all while in the comfort of deep sleep (hers, not mine). She marauds from one corner to another using movement techniques found exclusively in yoga and jiu jitsu classes. Nothing can stop her slumbering march. Nothing.
At first I thought it was cute. She’d butt up against me, nuzzle her face under my armpit, and then somehow her floppy arms and legs would octopus her body atop my chest. Upon this perch, anything could happen. She could journey to the other side, or head down south to camp out on my legs, or head north, up and over my face. Or, sometimes she’d just park herself on top of me and sleep for an hour or two…or five. Cute right? It is. Very cute. But then, out of nowhere…
A tiny fist pops my jaw. Or a little foot hooks into my plump bladder. Or a dreaded head butt spots right into my nose. And when I come to from these random baby melees ready to return instinctual fire, what would I see? A 31 pound lump of cute, sleeping with a peaceful smile – rendering my fists of fury into paternal submission.
In the early days of these night attacks, I would try and wake up my seed and reason with her. I figured if I could just explain to her to not hit daddy unknowingly while she slept, it would allow for a more peaceful and inviting sleep arrangement for the both of us. Stupid me. She’s 3. AND she’s asleep. Needless to say, I abandoned this strategy rather quickly.
My next solution was to lay on my side at the bed’s very edge, my face in flat parallel with the it and 95% of open bed right behind me. My hope was that by giving ninja baby as much room as possible to sleep slither and shadow box, I would not be within striking distance and hence, be able to get a night of uninterrupted sleep. Stupid me yet again. Eventually, my little, yellow narcoleptic glacier would find me and ram me off the bed (unknowingly, of course). After a few nights of pancaking onto my face, I abandoned this strategy as well.
What was I to do? How can a child so small seem to take up so much room on such a huge bed? And why does she have to unknowingly beat on me every night? There had to be a solution. I would not be driven from the comfort of my own bed by a nocturnally violent, mini, female version of me.
So my final attempt at a solution was to build a pillow wall in between us. I figured that by separating the bed into two sections, I would have my own private half to sleep in peace while she had her own private half to roll around and practice her night kata. End result? Epic fail. This great wall of pillows threw off her spacial radar and resulted in her tumbling off the bed quite often. Too often. One night, she rolled off the side and wedged her upper body in between the bed and the nightstand, her legs pointing towards the sky. It was like our own reenactment of “127 Hours.” Just bloodless and somewhat funny. After that, the pillow wall could be no more.
So that’s how I ended up on the floor. If I wanted to maximize sleep and minimize bodily injury for both father and daughter, I had to forfeit my entire queen-sized bed to my little, sleeping, shadow-boxing princess of the night. And that is why my whole body aches. I have not slept on a bed in a long, long time. I sleep beside a bed and at times beneath a bed, but I do not sleep on one or in one. I sleep on the ground, with nothing but a cut of berber between me and nature’s stone. It’s cold and drafty and, at times, I feel an insect or two scurry across my face looking for a warm home in my ear canal. It’s no Four Seasons that’s for sure. But it’s fun…in a strange daddy/parental-journey kind of way. On most nights, I do fall asleep on my slab of rock with a smile. I smile knowing that my daughter is comfy and safe and able to move around and beat on non-human things to her slumbering delight. Is it ideal? No. We definitely need to move into a bigger space – preferably a house with a yard and an exclusive bed for daddy. But until then, I’ll just have to enjoy the floor and relish in the aches and pains that come with fatherhood. The daddy Fan adventures continue…