"I love your site and check it daily; you are a guru to me, as you are to many!
I wonder if you have advice to offer about living in small spaces with a baby. Ours is four months old; we live in San Francisco. Our apartment is tiny, and his crib is in our room. We're about to start sleep-training,
and wonder if it's possible to do in a small apartment, with neighbors close by, but we're desperate for more sleep.
I'm also suffering a lot of guilt over not being able to provide a separate room for my child (the apartment is so small that we can't even partition a room with screens, or move our bed into a living room). We
can't afford to move, and Bay Area home prices are so high that we'll never be able to purchase a home. Yet most of my friends have nurseries for their babies, and almost every book I read assumes that the reader has a separate room for the baby. I feel very guilty as a result: will he resent us someday? will he be okay if he doesn't have his own room? Any words of wisdom?"
Thanks. I actually prefer charismatic leader, but guru will do just fine*.
First off, do not sleep train until your son is past the four-month-sleep regression. That regression sucks so much anyway that adding sleep training into it (which is going to suck 40 times more than it normally would if you do it in the middle of a sleep regression) will make you all long for the sweet release of hospitalization. So hold on 'til he's past the 19-week spurt to train, at which point you may not need to train anyway. (The irony--it's the regression that makes you want to train him, but the regression that makes training largely futile. Then once it's no longer futile, he'll sleep better on his own.)
But on to the space question. I think you have two choices: Stay where you are, or move someplace where you can have more room. Either way you gain something, and either way you give something up.
Honestly, I don't think there's any way to know whether he'll resent you for it until he's grown up. I suspect that how he feels about how he grew up will have more to do with his relationship to you and your husband than to the specifics of how much space you had.
I know adults who adored growing up in NYC. (FWIW, the NYC one-bedroom long-term solution seems to be to move the kid into the bedroom and have the parents sleep on a Murphy bed or pullout in the living room.) They feel like having all the of the cool stuff in the city was the best way to grow up, and feel sorry for kids who grew up with more space but less stimulation. The two women I know who grew up in NYC and hated it also had major family issues, so it doesn't surprise me that they have bad feeling about their growing-up years.
I know adults who adored growing up in the suburbs, or small towns, and the country. Big yards and forts and running around the neighborhood. But you know what they talk about when they talk about the way they grew up? What they did with their families and friends. It's the relationships that made their childhoods happy, and those relationships made the settings good for them.
So I think your decision to stay or go is going to have to be informed by other things, like what makes you feel comfortable (Would living in a crowded space stress you out? Would living outside a city enervate you?), whether you want to live closer or farther from your families, and whether you want to have more children or not. (From my observation, being an only is much more "normal" in cities than in other areas where most families have 2+ kids.)
If you're happy with yourselves and your marriage and your family and your son, he'll be fine growing up wherever you land.
Data points, people?
* I'm kidding, obviously. I'm so boringly normal. I have the same problems you guys do, and many others I hope you never experience. At this point writing the blog is just what I do, and I wish I had time to do more for you guys.