Frick, I’m tired! No Exhausted! This morning was one of those “Dear God, no, I can’t get out of bed” mornings. Now that A is two and a half, I don’t feel like I actually have the right to tell the world just how exhausted I am. Gone are the night feeds, the sleepless nights, the 4am wakings with a baby who is ready for the day. And it was repetitive as any parent knows. Its not just a week or a month. Oh no that broken, almost lack of sleep lasts a looooooooooonnnnngg time.
A is now a pretty good sleeper. I get a decent, minimum 6 hour sleep… although it’s often a broken sleep. It sounds like I’m bragging! But you see, we only have one child and I know that we’re over that pain staking, skin crawling with tiredness, I’d do anything for sleep period but life is hectic and hectic means exhausting. Sometimes, its hard to catch up on that lost energy and sleep. A still wanders in to us at least once in the middle of night, but we’re lucky that it’s not every night. The phrase “She slept through again” followed by a satisfactory parental high five, still resonates through our house as though we had some hand in it with magic fairy dust keeping her asleep from 8:30pm to a whopping wonderful hour of 6:30am.
I never saw 6:30am on a routine basis until parenthood took over. In fact, I think I had only seen it once before when we chased ourselves out of the house to catch what we considered a ridiculously early morning flight to Berlin. Early? Hah! I didn’t know the meaning of it!
But right now, at this very moment, I feel exhausted. My eyes are sore, lids are heavy, a migraine is ensuing, and my body is just begging me to slow down just for a minute. Not to mention my brain which has stopped and paused a million times already this morning because I just can’t keep up with anything (thank God for proofreading! There’s a sentence back there I could barely understand so just deleted it!)
I could fall asleep anywhere. Actually, that’s nothing new, that’s a skill I’ve had for a long time. Buses, trains, planes, benches, you name it. All I need is to close my eyes and I’m gone. I’m kind of looking forward to my commute home from work when I know I can slip into a sweet, baby like slumber…
Hold on…. no, no, no, just no!
Every parent out there has already called bullshit on the “sleeping like a baby” notion. Sweet, baby like slumber? Yeah, right. I don’t think I’ve ever woken up from a ten minute nap and thought, “Yowsers, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the world.” I’m more like, “Ugh, I shouldn’t have closed my eyes. My heads all fuzzy. Where’s my frickin bed.”
With of course an overreaction to anyone needing me or wanting to talk to me at that very moment between sleep and waking.”Shut Up, Don’t Touch Me.” Tiredness does funny things to your head.
But babies don’t sleep, not like an adult, not like how momma and papa bear desperately need them to sleep. Newborns sleep, oh yes they sleep deep and heavy and long… for two weeks until the newborn period is gone and they say “Oh Hello, what’s going on there?” and then they don’t sleep, afraid they’ll miss out on something new and exciting like the dog licking its…
A was one of those babies who slept for 30 minutes. not 29, not 31, 30 minutes. You literally could set your watch by her. We had 30 minutes as she cat napped to catch a hot – Dear God, HOT! It does exist – cup of tea or coffee, grab a sandwich – and curse the resulting indigestion – quickly fold the laundry and put away – or throw on the wardrobe floor to be hung up at some other time. I’m sure you know that 30 minutes is not a long time, there’s not really a lot you can do in 30 minutes (considering that you’re panicking for the first ten saying “quick, she’s asleep, quick, we gotta do something!”)
We all know that, yes, while babies sleep, they sleep at really shitty times. Usually when you need to take them out of the car or when you’re rushing from here or there. We were near enough afraid to go anywhere around nap time. God forbid we missed nap time, resulting in a grumpy baby and by default grumpy AND tired parents. Not a good combination and definitely doesn’t help the exhaustion.
A came in to us last night at 1:30am. She’s gotten very, very quiet at approaching our bed and has begun to frighten the wot-sits out of me! (trying to be polite!) It’s quite unsettling to peel your eyes open in the dark because your brain has heard some minuscule crackle on the floorboards to see a tiny little face watching you. “Hi Mammy” the innocence says. “What the frick! Jesus, you frightened me!”
B still asleep.
Since February of this year, B and I have a new parenting rule (created by him no less!) Some time ago, in between sizes 3 and 5 of Pampers, we fell into a bad habit of putting A down to sleep – one of us has to lie beside her until she’s asleep and we do the parental version of mission impossible and sneak out of the room. Now, I know lots of parents will say “Oh, you shouldn’t” and “break that habit now.” But it’s not going to be forever. She won’t be 10 years old needing us to fall asleep with her. She falls asleep in her own bed and rarely sleeps in with us so we see it as a lesser of two evils.
We would take nights on, nights off. Whoever put A down to sleep, got a stay in bed all night night and the other would bring her back to bed in the middle of the night if needs be and lie beside her until she falls asleep again. A was going through a funny momma bear period and I resulted in putting A to bed every night for a few weeks on the trot. Subsequently, B would be on night duty – it was only fair! Now as A doesn’t wander into us every single night, papa guilt crept in and B suggested that I do the bedtimes and he does the night wakings. (This generally means hopping into A’s double bed and falling asleep with her while I have the King size bed to myself, aren’t I a lucky duck!) So since then, I do the bedtimes (which can take up to 45 minutes, but as I don’t find it stressful knowing that she will of course drift off to sleep at some stage, I really don’t mind. Besides more often than not, I may just be asleep before her. I really could sleep anywhere and anytime. God forbid I ever suffer insomnia.) For me, there’s something very psychological about knowing that I’m getting into bed at the end of the day and not getting out until my alarm goes off.
So, A is standing at the end of the bed, silently watching us sleep.
In a dozy haze I kick B in the legs. There are many bruises on the poor man’s shins. He’s a relatively deep sleeper, especially when he’s exhausted, so he doesn’t hear A creep in. Gurgles, Urghs, Hmmms and body readjustments. Another swift kick. At this stage the child is swaying from side to side obviously in need of the bathroom. B thinks its 6am and wondering why I’m not getting up and letting A slide into bed with us for the 15 minutes before the alarm goes off. A third kick. Finally, B and A head to the bathroom and A does her usual sprint to her bedroom after, with a slow, tired and worn B dragging behind her, passing our bedroom door, and probably wishing he could rescind this parenting rule. He’s also a parent in desperate need of a 24 hour sleep marathon.
I fall back asleep and have dreams about work and projects I have to finish, feeling stressed and exhausted in my nightmares. B falls asleep 2 hours later with A’s legs spread across his torso. In the morning he tells me through a drained foggy blur, that really I don’t need to kick so hard.
As I say, I don’t feel like I have the right to say how tired I am when my body stays in bed, under the covers for a chunk of time I didn’t see ever happening again after A was born. But I am. Parenting is tiring, exhausting and depleting. We’re constantly running around, continually trying to catch up. We’re all tired. From the Working Mother, to the Super Mother
But, oh my, aren’t they cute when do actually sleep. Even if it is for 30 minutes on the hop.
I still watch A sleep. It’s something as a parent that I’ll ever get used to. Now though, she lies sideways in the bed, with her feet poking out, and four (and counting) My Little Pony’s, Spike the Dragon and Duck nestled under the covers with her.
So, tell me, how exhausted are you today?