Earlier this week, we had a rough night in the parent ‘hood, resulting in a disappointing five hours of sleep for Mommy. The next morning, I stumbled down the stairs in a stupor, attempted to insert an IV drip of Seattle’s Best Coffee, and started to cry when Voices Carry by ‘Til Tuesday started playing on Pandora. (In my defense, it is quite a haunting song.) I was a basketcase, completely incapable of coping due to my lack of sleep. Here’s the thing- back in the day, the occasional bad night of sleep never used to vanquish my competence and transform me into a zombie. But after 15 long months with a baby who didn’t sleep through the night, I have become irrevocably addicted to sleep.
Those months of staggering through sleep deprivation hell have left me desperate, and on those rare nights when I fail to amass enough snooze time, I feel my system start to shut down. The sad thing is, even on nights when I log a solid eight hours, I am always hungry for more. One morning, my daughters woke up at 6:00, and I woke up disoriented and lethargic. I felt almost hung-over, aching for just a few more precious ounces of vodka, I mean, sleep. What’s wrong with you, I chastised myself. A year ago, you would have killed to sleep all the way to six! But it was no use- no matter how long I slept, it simply wasn’t enough.
I have found that, like an addict, while I prefer a high-quality product, I have a sliding scale and crave even inferior goods. Certainly I would prefer eight to nine uninterrupted hours, but I will take whatever I can get, regardless of quality. In the early hours of the morning, I go to great lengths to snag the “flash nap”– 3 minutes of disjointed dreaming– and even its ugly stepsister the “45-second-sleep-then-jerk-back-awake” experience, reminiscent of a bad flashback. I have been known to retrieve my toddler from her crib, fetch her a sippy cup of milk, and then fall back asleep for another five minutes while she sprawls awkwardly atop my ribcage. Much as your pothead brother prefers the impeccable kine bud smoked out of his buddy’s thousand-dollar bong, he’ll happily take you up on that backyard boogie perched on the busted Coke can. Desperate times.
I’ve decided this newfound obsession with sleep stems from a lack mentality of sorts, thanks to our year and a quarter of chronic sleep deprivation. This mindset of scarcity reminds me of my former grandmother-in-law, who grew up in an orphanage and hoarded knick-knacks her entire life. Her pantry was filled with boxes of food that had expired a decade earlier, because she simply could not throw anything away. I suppose I can’t seem to throw a minute of sleep away either, after having been deprived of it for so long. (Sidenote: I hereby abstain from a discussion as to why I did not sleep-train my daughter during this yearlong torture. You will have to go elsewhere to get your Mommy-Wars on.)
When my second child, the sleep-deficient one, came along, her older sister was already 5 years old. I had seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and knew that at some point we’d return to the stage of life where our children could be trusted to slump on the sofa in front of Nick Jr. while my husband and I greedily gobbled up a few more hours of sleep on a Saturday morning. But I also knew that even after a child outgrows predictable night wakings, they have bad dreams, or the occasional potty accident, or a cold than causes them to cough until they vomit all over their beds, or a weeklong vacation in which they refuse to sleep on the pull-out sofa and set up camp sideways between their parents’ faces. You may periodically return to a baseline of uninterrupted sleep, but as it goes with all things parenting, there’s always something.
I’ve heard this urban myth about teenagers who like to sleep all the time, and I feel a glimmer of hope. I vaguely recall lying in my own bed until 11:00 a.m. during high school, refusing to move until Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40 had concluded. (Is that still a thing? I heard that Sirius killed the radio star or something. Or maybe it was Apple.) But I have also heard, “Just wait until they’re teenagers! Then you lay awake at night waiting for them to come home!” Har har. Thanks a lot, killjoy.
So I guess I’ll wait for that sweet spot, when my kids have reached the age at which they are old enough to enjoy hibernation, but are too young for a late curfew. Like say, 14. Except for the fact that they are 5 years apart in age, so I expect I am perpetually screwed for the next 16 years. Oh well. I guess there’s always retirement to look forward to. Except for the night-wakings due to urinary incontinence. I guess I’ll start subscribing to my husband’s favorite mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
OMG ‘ “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” What a wit that man has.
Yup, he’s a laugh riot.
Oh seriously even though y kids are so close in age, I sill don’t know what sleep looks like, because now I have trouble some nights sleeping even when they sleep perfectly. And then on the nights where they have a bad dream or crawl into be with us, all I want to do is sleep and like you could sleep all day, but they won’t allow it. Trust me, so feel your pain and looks like I will sleep only when I am dead, too!!
Seriously. We’re screwed.
I was with you at the title–and then “amen!-ing” you throughout the rest of the post. I am thinking when we get out of this stage we need to plan a week-long sleep vacation??
Yes! Sign me up for that!
I got blessed with kids who slept well. One had night terrors but that was short lived thank goodness. But now they are up at the butt crack of dawn on the weekends and all are teenagers.. eeeks. Well one is 21 but still at home I am hoping that changes ASAP.. we won’t even go there.. sighs. I hope you get some sleep soon hun..
I can hardly imagine! You are one lucky lady that they slept well! Thanks for that… 🙂
I have no idea how I coped with 11 months of sleep deprivation. Then again, I was pretty depressed back then, so I guess that’s how I coped! The trouble is, I find the more sleep I get, the worse I feel. I’m so used to logging 5-6 hours a night so I can get some “me time” in, that anything more than that makes me feel hungover in the morning. But with naps over and a 6:30 bedtime these days, I’m logging about 7-7.5 hours and I feel better. Kind of. 😉
I have been there, too- I actually felt worse when I slept more. It is SO hard to go to bed early in lieu of me time. I can never choose. :/
Oh, Stephanie, I agree!! I need my sleep and have absolutely no idea how I was able to function when my kids were younger. My younger brother & sister in law are expecting their first child in January and just the thought of all those sleepless nights make me start to hyperventilate! 🙂 Fortunately, my kids are sleepers now and, when schedules allow, do happily sleep until at least 8:00 or so!
8:00 is HEAVEN! 8:00 am is the new 11:00, in my opinion! 😀
I’m right there with you. My son still doesn’t sleep well. But do you want to know my secret? I use guilt to persuade my husband to do “night duty” most nights. My husband is actually much more effective at getting my son back to sleep. (My son immediately detects weakness and will milk it for all its worth.)
I am SO jealous! I am usually more effective, so I just do it myself. Grrr. 🙁
I can’t wait until my kids are late-sleeping teenagers. I’ve promised them I will never ever rouse them or complain about it. 🙂
I write this comment, ironically, on the day my almost 4 y o just got up and did stuff for an hour while I “slept in.” Score!
High five! Nice one, mama!
I am totally 100% in agreement…although, I fear I will never sleep properly again. I can’t remember the last time I had a truly restful night’s sleep.-Ashley
Bleh… it never ends, huh?
I think lack of sleep is what scares me most about parenting. Not bullying, or the terrible twos – me not sleeping. I had a year of insomnia a few years back, and ever since then, sleep is precious. If I don’t get 8 1/2 hours, I become a raging lunatic capable of murder.
I fear for my future children.
By the by, I laughed so hard at your smack comparisons: “I have found that, like an addict, while I prefer a high-quality product, I have a sliding scale and crave even inferior goods.” Spot on. 😉
Oh, Gawd… I’m glad you found it entertaining. I was worried the whole thing was kind of in poor taste. :/ Hopefully your husband needs less sleep than you do? That is the way it is in my house…
I have that 5-year gap as well. I swear it is some cosmic joke that just when you can leave one in front of the TV with a bowl of dry cereal the new one comes along. I am nodding my head at dozing while they are splayed over your rib cage. It does get better, I promise. Now Allie is 9 and while Boo cannot be left alone at least Allie will make sure she doesn’t leave the house when I ask for PLEASE FIVE MORE MINUTES
Yes, it is a cosmic joke! My 7 year old is *sometimes* capable of entertaining her sister while I continue snoozing. But it ends in screeching at least 50% of the time…
Oh, man, I thought it was just me. Even when I have a “decent” night of sleep, I still usually wake up feeling hungover and I can’t figure out why. The worst part is that my husband usually tries to be considerate and concerned and asks me how I feel when I wake up and I feel like a jerk for saying I’m still tired, even when I’ve gotten 6 or more straight hours of sleep. Of course, many nights my insomnia keeps me up until the wee hours, so even though my toddler and husband have a “good night”, I still don’t. The universe is so unfair.
You know, of all the things we’ve vented about, I’m not sure fatigue and that hungover feeling has ever come up! I guess I am just used to it by now… Argh.
Nah! Just wait until you’ve trained them to brush their own teeth, get some cereal and switch on the morning cartoons! Then, you’re good!!
You are so right! The fact that my oldest can operate the remote is such a good thing!
I can’t remember the last time that I got enough sleep. Even before I had my son, I couldn’t sleep when I was pregnant. I can tell you that it’s true that teenagers sleep a lot. Although in hindsight, I’m not sure whether my husband’s teen was awake in her room (or had snuck out) until 3 or 4am. (your daughters will be much better than she was)
HAHA to waking due to incontinence when you’ve reached retirement (and crap…hadn’t thought of that). Also? Isn’t it incredible how one short car nap can ruin the entire 24 hour period in which it took place?
PS I don’t know how to spell incontinence
My girls had better be goody-goody teenagers like I was when I lived at home. (Fingers crossed…) Also- I think you spelled it right. 😉
My kids (12 and 15) slept until 10 or 11 this summer – bliss!! But the downside? My high schooler is up until 11:00 or later doing homework. That makes couple time kinda hard. And getting up at the butt crack of dawn to go to school sucks too. Boy, I’m just a big ray of sunshine, aren’t I? I guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead too.
Ha! I’ll take your sunshine- honesty is a good thing! 🙂
Ah, yes. My kids are 12 and 14 and love to sleep. It’s absolutely wonderful … the sweet spot, indeed!!!
I’m about to have my 4 year old nephew with us for a week. He sleeps well enough, but I’m afraid imma have a big, bad case of dragass … now that I’m used to all my sleep and the independence of my kids, it will feel like an abrupt gear shift to go back to preschool age stuff.
I bet that will be rough… but the 12 and 14 year olds sleeping in sounds heavenly! Thanks for commenting! 🙂
Sleep, the wonder drug. I find these I’m more likely to fantasize about hours and hours of sleep – uninterrupted, alone in my own bed – than anything sexy. My daughters are 6 years apart and the teenager does love her sleep. Just as sleep was becoming more regular my baby nephew moved in with in and it’s back to craving sleep. Sleep, sleep, and more sleep.
Oh, I am SO with you on that one! In fact.. I think I’ll go to bed now! 😀
Well, at least they’re cute! If they’re going to abuse you, then that’s the least they can be.
Yeah, they do have that going for them. They’re lucky, ’cause if they weren’t so cute…
OK I am seriously laughing my ass off right now. First off, not even gonna ask why you know all of the correct terminology for your “brother’s” pot habit.
And secondly! OMG! Now at 9am sometimes I am like leave me alone I’M STILL SLEEPING!!!! Mine woke up every 2-3 hours until he was 2.5 and I never recovered. EVER. I know that feeling like you got hit by a bus feeling.
I told my sister the first good nights sleep I had since my son was born was at BlogHer.
Dude, I went to college! 😉 And also, I did consult wikipedia. I didn’t want to look like I didn’t have true street cred. And it IS legal in my state… (I totally don’t smoke pot. But sometimes I wonder if I would be a better mom if I did. I digress…) Thanks for all the shares!
It’s actually totally the opposite for me! I mean, I love sleep, but I can get by with far fewer hours of sleep compared to before I had children. And my sophomores tell me that they sleep until 10 am, at least, on the weekends. So there is some hope….
Yup. I don’t know what else to say.