My friend Beth recently updated her FaceBook status with, "How come I got the non-sleeping model of infant?" It reminded me of being a first-time mom, and feeling completely exhausted and sleep-deprived. Until you've been there, you have no idea. No, it's nothing like drinking all night and then taking a final. Not even close.
When my oldest child was an infant, I asked her pediatrician about her sleep habits. I mentioned that "all the books" said that, at her age, she should be sleeping through the night. Dr. Aqua, a mother of three/pediatrician/wife of an obstetrician, looked at me and said, "Honey, the trouble is, sometimes the babies don't read the books."
Hmmm. Didn't think of that.
But now, my kids are both school-aged. They can wipe their own bottoms, get themselves a snack, read themselves a book, tie their own shoes. Doesn't it follow that they should be sleeping through the night by now? You'd think so, wouldn't you?
Here's a partial list of the "reasons" (read: excuses) my girls have had for waking me up during the precious few hours I'm in bed (you know, from like midnight to 5 AM):
~ I need a drink.
~ I have to go potty.
~ I had a dream that there was Purell on my hair.
~ Book orders are due tomorrow!
~ My pillow is wet because I washed my hair.
~ I can't find my tissues.
~ I forgot to tell you that I won the race in P.E. today.
~ I think I have Show and Tell tomorrow.
~ Did you pack chicken fingers in my lunch tomorrow? Cuz if you did, I need ketchup, too.
~ Can I some some Halloween candy?
~ I think I might have a fever and should stay home from school tomorrow. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that I have a math quiz and I forgot my study guide, I swear.
So, like a good mom, I squelch the screaming banshee within (she who wants to say things like, "Are you f#&@ kidding me? You walked past two bathrooms to tell me you have to pee/need a drink/can't find a tissue?" or "I already KNOW about the book orders because I'm the book mom, remember?" or "Candy? CANDY? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?")
Or, and I might actually have said this one out loud, "Maybe you're hot because you are wearing 5 sweatshirts. No, you do NOT have a fever, and yes, you ARE taking the quiz tomorrow. Get out of my room."
And, not to be a bitch or anything, but sometimes I wonder how the hell my husband is sleeping through these conversations. How does he wake up if the dog breathes too loudly, but can't hear a screaming child over a baby monitor THREE INCHES FROM HIS HEAD???
Now, it's not every night that the kids come down the stairs in the dead of night. Sometimes we go days without midnight incursions; sometimes it's 4 or 5 a night. Per kid. So I wonder: Is it wrong to send them back upstairs by themselves? Is it wrong to be fighting mad when it's 3 AM and someone is telling me that she wants to paint her fingernails after school tomorrow? If you're sick, if you've had a bad dream, I'm all over it. But most of these seem to be of the "I just woke up and thought it would be fun to go hang out with Mommy" variety. Am I a total slacker because I am too tired to argue with them and send them back to their own beds?
And then I remember that, soon, very soon, these sweet angels wouldn't be caught DEAD crawling into my bed. The teenage years are just around the corner, and then they'll be going off to college, and I might get my wish after all: a night where I could sleep 8 hours in a row with no interruptions. No pitter patter of little feet on the stairs; no warm little body sneaking up between my husband and me, saying, "I need you, Mom" as she snuggles into the crook of my arm. No sweet baby breath on my hair, no one pressing her little feet up against me as she sighs into sleep, content and sure that all is right in the world because she's got her mom and dad next to her.
Slacker Mom Says...screw the books. Yes, they SHOULD be sleeping through the night. Yes, they shouldn't be allowed to creep in during the night. Yes, I'd sleep a LOT better without an extra person (or two) in the bed. But like the country song says, "You're gonna miss this." I know I will, so I'm going to hang on to it just a little longer. Who needs sleep? That's what coffee's for, right?