The princess and the pea.

Some days I am a halfway decent parent and human being. SOME days. And, some days, I am appalled that any hospital let me leave its premises with a human infant…four times.

Today was the latter.

It has been awhile since I last changed sheets. Maybe during the last ice age. 1 queen size, two sets of bunk beds and a crib make that, let’s see, 2 + 4 and carry the 5 x 500 pillow pets and 15 stray socks found where sheet meets mattress = It’s a lot of bedding, ok?

I avoid this chore like exercise and volunteer committees.

I was lovingly placing the finishing touches on the 3 year old’s bottom bunk when my 8 year old said, “Mommy, can you make my bed too?”

And I said, “Of course sweetie! Your bed is next.”

And I was so very proud of myself for the next 3 minutes…until…

I attempted my climb to the top bunk which may as well have been Mount Everest. The top bunk is not built for Mom thighs. The ladder mocked me. “Oh, look…the big one is trying to climb us. Look guys, she can’t even figure it out. Seriously, she’s going to slip again.” So, when I reached the summit, imagine my shock.

It was like prison up there.

No sheet. 15 books under her pillow. No fitted sheet. No actual sheet. Did you hear me…NO SHEETS. And, we could talk about the mattress, but, I don’t want to. Because, it’s not even a mattress. It was a toddler bed pad – split into three separate sections. It’s thin and oh my God, I am the worst.

I said, “Ummm, you don’t have any sheets. How long have you been without sheets?”

She said, “I don’t know. A while, I think.”

I said, “Why are you sleeping on the thin bed pads? How did this happen?”

She said, “I think something happened when you were fixing the beds last time. I think you couldn’t finish? I don’t know. I don’t remember. It was a while ago.”

Her memoir, “I don’t remember. It was a while ago.” is sure to be the new Mommy Dearest.


The only thing missing up there was a metal cup for her to rattle against the bed guard.

Don’t worry, it gets better because the unused top bunk of my son’s bed was luxuriously appointed with a double mattress, an eggshell mattress topper, sheets, two pillows and several blankets so that the invisible person who sleeps there can get the good night’s sleep they so richly deserve.

I spent the next 2 hours dragging mattresses and fluffing pillows and rearranging bedding. I tucked corners and put the softest sheets I could find on poor Cinderella’s bed.

How did I miss this? For weeks *cough…months*. How is it possible? Right, the ladder. That bastard.

I give kisses at the bottom of the bed. Nobody puts baby in a corner unless it’s the corner of an unmade prison cot bunk bed.

Upside: I walked away with a new appreciation for my daughter. That girl is the opposite of a diva. She never complained. Not once. She never asked for a sheet. She never complained that her mattress pads were uncovered and probably drifting apart every night. She never balked or fussed or did anything but kiss us goodnight and climb up to her totally barren wasteland of a bed.

The old fable says that a princess would be able to feel a pea under a stack of dozens of mattresses, but, I’m pretty sure a real princess would do exactly what my daughter has done – kissed her family goodnight and made the best of things.

So, despite my utter failings and flailing, we have ourselves a bona fide princess.

I hope she marries royalty. We could all use some Egyptian cotton up in here.


  1. Oh no! I’ve had those moments before too. I once caused my son to have an accident in the car because I thought he was just whining and it turned out he needed to poop. I felt so bad. I’m pretty sure he’s forgotten by now…I hope

  2. You’re supposed to change the sheets?!?!? I’d sooner just burn the beds to the ground and build new ones. And those are on ground level! Anyone who gives her children two sets of bunk beds is a saint. A SAINT I tell you. When I was a girl, I’d have given up sheets for life to sleep in the top bunk of a bunk bed. Access to bunk beds was the single reason I went to summer camp. That said, your children *are* the sweetest little troupers ever.

  3. At least you change sheets sometimes…. Last time I did was because my princess puked all over the bed… gross and unpleasant. She still calls it “the bad spits”

    Your daughter definitely gets a gold star on her tiara for never complaining though.. 🙂

  4. Yeah, it’s always worse when the kids DON’T complain. My daughter will be here in 6 weeks, so the only experience I have is with babysitting. But there was one time, I forgot to feed the kids I was watching and they didn’t complain they were hungry. I went to put them to bed and they were just like “What about dinner?”. I felt so bad. It made it worse that they didn’t even complain or get cranky.

    You know what? It’s worse when people don’t complain too. I had a friend who we invited over, and he asked if he could have something to drink. We jokingly told him he wasn’t allowed to have anything, not even water, assuming he would just help himself to food and drink (because all our other friends do – which is fine btw!). He took us seriously and after like 6 hours of hanging out with us asked if he used a paper cup if he could have some water. I thought he was joking until my husband and I realized he seriously did not touch our snacks all day because he didn’t want to be rude. Felt so bad, now we make sure to remind him when he comes over to grab what he wants and if he asks for food or drinks ever again it’s grounds to smack him. LOL

  5. I love your girl’s spirit, and I’ve always hated the message of the princess and her pea. I have so many moments like this, my kids can never have bunk beds.

  6. Andrea Miller says:

    Oh thank you so much for sharing. I thought I was the only one that never washes sheets that often. And half the time when I notice my children don’t have a bottom sheet on their bed because it’s come off I say do you need it back on or are you ok without it? I feel horrible but when you have 4 kids and you’re already doing laundry ALL THE DAMN time how do you have time to wash bedding x4?! I really think if they instituted family laundry to high school that that alone should be good birth control!

  7. OMG! This is so funny. My 9 year old will occasionally pee her bed. I literally smell the sheets to see “how bad” it is to see if it is worth changing immediately. If we do take off the sheets, and the waterproof mattress pad, it takes many days to actually wash and dry. Therefore, my daughter sleeps on bathmats under a fitted sheet until the waterproof mattress pad re-appears (weeks later). Thank you for your honesty!!

  8. That is absolutely something I would do… Including the weeks-cough-months part. I actually came away from this thinking how glad I am that my son’s new bed is a LOW loft, so I can see it.

  9. “Barren wasteland of a bed.” <– This is the stuff that memoirs are really made of. How could she ever muster the angst necessary to reach true creative genius without this episode? Otherwise her life is filled with loving parents, a gaggle of siblings, and other niceties that don't lend themselves to compelling writing. You are doing her a favor. One writer to another. Congratulations!

  10. I love that I found your blog! I have four children as well and feel the same way about changing sheets…and exercise!we also have two sets of bunk beds. I only change sheets when they get peed on…and even then it is after they have slept with their heads at the other end of the bed for several nights.

  11. Ha! My son has a loft bed, and his sheets get changed whenever there’s a blue moon. It’s so hard to get up there and put the new sheets on. How am I supposed to tuck the fitted sheet under the corners when I am ON TOP OF THE MATTRESS. They just got changed a couple weeks ago, and I have to do it again because he was sick yesterday. What did I do to deserve this?!

  12. My daughter’s sheets are the only ones that get washed even though she barely sleeps in her bed and keeps crawling in with us at 3 in the morning. I’ve just realized this.

    My husband has the winningest neglect story to rub his poor mother’s face in. When he was a kid he broke his arm but she thought he was just whining, and it set that way until his next dr appt when the doctor asked, did she know her son’s arm was broken? They had to rebreak it to set it properly. He’s gotten a lot of play with that one, let me tell you. P.S. his mom also had 4 kids and a Sicilian mother-in-law who tortured her. Her plate was indeed full.

  13. You, Mommy Beerest, are a delight. Thank you for sharing this. And props to your daughter for being a pragmatic princess.

  14. I loved this post. Of course, I can relate. More than you know. We have 10 actual beds that need sheets, two sets are bunk beds. Ain’t NO WAY my perpetually pregnant behind is climbing that “ladder,” which we all know is really a couple of 1×2’s precariously glued to the frame. We have clean, albeit severely wrinkled, sheets taking up at least 3 laundry baskets in a dark corner somewhere that my husband keeps suggesting we just throw out so we can get the laundry baskets back. “It’s not like the sheets get changed around her anyway!” Always thinking of me, he is. I predict your daughter will go very far in life.

  15. Regardless of their efficient use of space, anyone who has EVER attempted to
    change the sheets knows that bunk beds are satan’s handiwork. The end.

  16. This is so hilarious. Not that your daughter sleeping on a bare mattress is hilarious but you know what I mean. I always start doing something then leave to do something else then actually get nothing done at all. You are the best writer ever. Really.

  17. I give you so many points for even trying–actually completing a task is just a silly unnecessary bonus. And your daughter with no complaints? She is my new dream girl. KEEP HER.

  18. I may have given my daughter licorice for breakfast yesterday, but she does have sheets.

    You have single-handedly made my day. Not the first time, I might add. Love this and you.



  1. Bad Sandy says:

    […] I love love love Bethany who writes Bad Parenting Moments. But now that I’ve read her account of finding out her kid had no sheets on her bed for three months, I’m in love with Bethany. You will be, too. She’ll make you feel good about your day. Mostly because hers is so fucked up.  In a good way. Unless you’re her kid who had no sheets. […]

  2. […] I love love love Bethany who writes Bad Parenting Moments. But now that I’ve read her account of finding out her kid had no sheets on her bed for three months, I’m in love with Bethany. You will be, too. She’ll make you feel good about your day. Mostly because hers is so fucked up.  In a good way. Unless you’re her kid who had no sheets. […]

Speak Your Mind