Breathing Space

While my daughter has spent most of her nine years complaining that she doesn't get to share a room with anyone, my sons have spent the majority of their lives complaining that they do. We've tried to mix it up at times by having our daughter share with one or the other of her brothers, but after one night they would complain vociferously about the other making "breathing noises" (how dare they) and then it was back to the norm. Until last weekend.

The boys' pleas for their own space have gradually become more pronounced but it wasn't until we saw our eighth-grader's feet dangling off the edge of his bunk bed that my husband and I decided a change might actually be in order. That and the fact that the piles of guitar books, sports gear, books, baseballs, trinkets and trash were all multiplied by two, making it difficult to find them in their own beds sometimes.

So with a lot of wrangling and a little fanfare, Nick moves into the guest room this weekend and my three kids all officially have their own rooms.

I know they're bubbling with excitement at the prospect of all that liberty and legroom. But truthfully I'll miss the way it's been. I think there's something special about having to share space with a sibling and I'm sorry our daughter has missed out on whatever character trait that builds (though having two older brothers builds a different kind of character, to be sure). Familiarity may breed contempt, but it also builds a friendship. We really get to know a person living in close quarters.

 Nick knows, for instance, that Ben values orderliness and routine. He knows that his brother motivates himself by hanging inspiring photos and quotes on the ceiling where he can look at them every night. He knows that Ben loves the Sunday comics that adorn their walls and aspires to both humor and art. That Ben's rock collection is heavy enough to sink a small ship but that each one can be traced back to a particular location and will evoke emotion in his voice as he tells you why it was the perfect souvenir. Of course, any visitor to their room could tell by the ample bookshelves that Ben loves to read, but only his big brother knows his favorite genre of books and has listened patiently while Ben, flashlight in hand, read the good parts out loud from his bunk above.

Ben, on the other hand, knows that Nick has a hankering for conversation just after the lights go out, and can be relied on to dish out all the middle school news as they drift off. He knows Nick lies on his bed and visualizes himself making touchdowns, and that he'll always be the first out of bed before the alarm clock sounds. He knows Nick sometimes gets headaches that require noisy brothers to tiptoe and that Nick's breathing doesn't come easy during allergy season. Ben remembers the days when a much younger older brother sweetly reassured him that he didn't have to be afraid of the dark because the Bible says God is with us always — so that must mean even when the lights are out.

My friend once said she wanted her sons to share a room because she believed it was important that her boys hear the sounds of each other breathing. I think I know what she means. It's an intimacy that creates a bond that creates a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

I'm glad my boys have had the chance to share a bedroom for most of their childhood, even if now it's time for them to create their own breathing space.

Maybe they can just leave the doors between their rooms open for a little while.

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  • Guest

    Thank you for this article; the timing couldn't be better!  I just found out that I'm expecting identical twins (after a long period of infertility and one miscarriage), and I was concerned because we live in a small two-bedroom house, and our nursery is really tiny.  I pray that by the time they're in middle school we will be able to afford either an addition or a larger house.  But in the meantime, it's nice to hear that there are some benefits of sharing space!

  • Guest

    There are 10 of us living in an 1800 sq. ft. 4 bedroom house.  Not much individual room, but my husband and I make sure each child has a small part of their own space.  Esther,who is 4, has a box under her bed that holds all of her special things. Rachel, our 8 year old, who shares a room with Esther has a "private drawer" in her dresser. The older boys have big plastic tubs with lids that are theirs alone. The kids have learned to share what they have to, and respect other's privacy when needed. It hasn't always been an easy lesson.  Toddlers love older siblings things! Yet, my kids have learned to adapt well and treat others how they wish to be treated, not from hearing about it, but from living it.

  • Guest

    Claire, congratulations!  That is absolutely wonderful news!  I know that infertility is a cross you've patiently borne for a very long time, and I am so gladdened that God has rewarded your patience, devotion, and obedience.

     I grew up in a family of six, and I don't think it ever occurred to me that I ought to have a room of my own before puberty.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Arkanabar!  We are truly awestruck by how much our lives have changed in the past few weeks.  First to learn about the pregnancy, and then to learn that it was twins, something I had never imagined in my wildest dreams.  God is definitely the God of surprises, and his timing is perfect.  

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Claire – my prayers have been one-third answered – any news on college funds for at least these two wunderkind? If the windfall of funds seem way too much even for Christendom or Ave Maria, or Oxford or Cambridge, then, maybe, anticipate another ‘litter’.

    Seriously, Claire, my very warmest congratulations to you and your husband – soon to share God’s title of ‘Father’. One Dad to another, it’s never easy but forever grand.

    Of children, God’s and yours, their timing is never perfect and always perfect. May the distant distance find you all together forever with God.

    Look me up, There . . .

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …

  • Guest

    Yea! Claire!

    Congrats to you and your hubby!

  • Guest

    Thank you, PS!  I think I remember you mentioning that you were praying for us to have twins.  Please don't pray for triplets!


    Thank you,  Ipioch!

  • Guest

    Congratulations twice over, Claire and hubby!  God will never be outdone! 

    Having been an "only", sharing ANYTHING was a big deal!  But, I learned….well enough to stay married to the same man for 46 years!  Now, THAT's God's accomplishment!

  • Guest

    Thanks, Cooky!  I feel the same way.  I wasn't an only child, but I was single till almost 35, so I had become very set in my ways, and it was an adjustment to get used to living with someone else.  Looks like I'm in for another big adjustment!  It's amazing when I think of how different my life is now from how it was just 5 years ago.

  • Guest

    Great news, Claire!

    We live with our eight children in a big house yet we still have two or three share a room for a while. As the older ones get their own room, it is a bittersweet time, but it's all good.

  • Guest

    Last summer we did an addition of another bedroom on the house.  Now, all 3 of the kids have their own rooms.  I was opposed to the idea at first.  (I was willing to do it for financial reasons…it would improve the value of the home.)  My sister and I shared a room until she was in high school.  Lots of squabbles, but I think there is much to be gained with learning to live with your sibling in TIGHT quarters.  🙂

    I was worried my two boys, if separated, would grow up not as close.  I thought they would miss out on something.  I also thought there was an aspect of materialism to wanting each child to have his/her own room.(although I could never exactly explain just how…'course neither could hubby explain his reasoning beyond 'well, I always had my own room!'). 

    Well, it's still not been quite a year, but I think it has been for the better.  Their 2 personalities are so different that having their own physical space (which they didn't before) has helped them want to be together more during the day.  One wakes up bright and early and wants to read.  The other (takes after mom) has to be wrestled out of bed.  One needs a lot of alone time.  The other doesn't seem to need much if any alone time at all.  I could go on.

    Now?  About once a week, they ask to have a sleep over with each other.  So far, so good.