All my siblings were chronic bedwetters until at least age 10. My sisters wet the bed until they were 16 or 17.

My parents didn’t make a fuss about it. It was just a fact of life. Mom helped my siblings try various strategies — alarms, waking in the night, limiting drinking after dinner. But she never pushed us into any of them. She had no faith that any of them would help; she believed that it was all a matter of maturing anatomy.

Diapers were a fact of life, too. Mom kept a supply of necessary sizes of disposables for my brothers in their bathroom and for my sisters in our bathroom. She did not require any of us to wear protection at home. But she provided the option, and all of us took it. For my siblings, it was second nature. They had always wet the bed and always worn protection.

It was different for me. I hadn’t wet the bed since I was a toddler. Managing bedwetting was new to me at age 14. Mom didn’t tell me that I had to wear protection, but she did suggest that I would be more comfortable if I did. After the horrible experience of waking up in a pool of urine, I did so promptly and without shame. I had the example of my older sisters, whom I loved and admired. They had each always worn protection without shame, and still did at ages 16 and 17.

Bedwetting wasn’t a secret in the family, although we were discreet. I shared a room with my sisters. I knew that they each wore protection to bed, but I never saw it. Each of us changed in private, behind a closed bathroom door. I never saw a wet sheet or wet pajamas, either. I did hear my sisters changing wet things (and occasional blue language from a stubbed toe) during the night.

Mom’s one rule was that everyone was responsible for oneself. Dispose of one’s own wet disposable; launder one’s own wet sheets and clothes; let her know when it was time to buy disposables or replace worn diapers or pants. No wet sheets left on a bed. No wet things left anywhere but the trash or the washing machine. Mom would run sheets and clothes through the dryer or hang them on the line while we were at school, but we folded and stored our own laundry. The house never smelled of urine.

None of it affected our social lives. We all went on sleepovers and class trips. We all knew how to discreetly change and how to get wet things in plastic bags before they started to smell. The discipline and discretion at home helped me keep it from my roommates in college.


One thought on “Family

  1. In a family that has a history of bedwetting the actual use of protecion is pretty much a given. Growing up those in our house and cousins who also were bedwetters thought nothing of wearing protection to bed. In our early years it was mom who diapered us at bedtime, as we grew older we would learn how to take care of ourselves. Wetting was never a big secret within our family or those of cousins. Also there were other kids in the neighborhood who wore some sort of protection at night for bedwetting. While it was kept quiet and little was said about it we did know about it and pretty much had nothing to say about it.

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