Sometimes mornings feel less like “waking up” more like “admitting defeat”.
Don’t get me wrong. On a scale of Liz Taylor to that insane Duggar woman with more children than your average elementary school, I manage to get a respectable amount of sleep. Both of my kids were easy babies who adjusted to life on the outside without much nighttime screaming and fanfare. I nursed them both, so there was no staggering around in the middle of the night to prepare bottles, but plenty of hours logged as a human pacifier. So much so that I recall a night just after my daughter was born that I yell-whispered into the darkness, “OHMYGOD I LOVE YOU BUT IF MY BOOB IS IN YOUR MOUTH FOR ONE MORE SECOND, I MIGHT PUKE ON YOUR HEAD.”
When you’re pregnant, it feels like everyone else on the planet is running a contest to see who can offer the most useless comment. One of my absolute favorites is “Get sleep now!”. Guess what, Breathwaster McGillicuddy? I FEEL LIKE A MANATEE THAT GOT ASSAULTED BY A BOAT PROPELLER. If something isn’t itching, it’s aching. I’m starving but this free loader is taking up all the space I’d cram food all while also crushing my lungs. EVERY.SINGLE.POSITION. for sleep is uncomfortable after 6 full minutes AND JUST SHUP UP ALREADY.
There is no way to prepare yourself for the type of sleep you get after you have children. Not that it’s entirely bad. Just…different. Once my first was born, I felt a very obvious shift in my sleep brain from completely shut off to something more primal and aware. Never before had I sat bolt upright at 2 am to make sure another person was still breathing. Often, I’d wake just as they were stirring, cram my boob in their mouth and back to sleep we’d go.
But many nights have been far less peaceful. In eight years as a parent I’ve been woken up because:
someone is thirsty
someone is hungry
someone is hot
someone is cold
someone dreamed that they were dancing and WHY WON’T YOU DANCE WITH ME MOMMY? WHY? (Because it’s one o’clock in the morning kid, and I was a little busy sleeping.)
someone has to pee
someone filled their bed with vomit
someone vomited on me
WHERE ARE MY DRUMSTICKS, MOMMY!!!!!!!!!
someone wants to watch Super Why
someone IS watching the Disney channel (“Dude! It’s 3 am. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” “I couldn’t sleep!” “So count something.”)
someone heard a noise
someone thinks it’s too quiet
someone thinks it’s too dark
someone wants the light off
someone smelled popcorn
someone is excited about christmas/easter/vacation/Friday
someone is scared of a monster/dog/thunder/lightning/a book about a farmer who jumped out of bed and looked really mad
someone fell out of bed (and didn’t even notice)
someone crawled in bed to snuggle but is built like a 10 speed
MOMMY I WANT TO GO OUTSHIDE (“shhhhhh. it’s the middle of the night.” “NOOOOOOOO! OOOOUTTTSHHHHIIIIIIDDDDDDEE!”)
someone is nervous about school/the doctor/the dentist
someone is positive they heard a dinosaur
someone has an itchy bug bite
someone’s legs hurt
someone’s blankets fell off
someone doesn’t want blankets
someone’s pillow fell off
someone does not have an adequate amount of pillows
someone (who is actually asleep) is yelling nonsense
It’s sort of a Choose Your Own Adventure of sleeping. One night can combine any of the above issues, and on the most exciting nights, it’s a round robin of different complaints staggered every 45 minutes. And when both children are really on top of their game, they cruelly get you right at that moment you drift off to sleep.
However, the nights that make me drop to my knees and shake my fist at the stars that seem to be aligning to spell, “HA. HA. HA.”? The nights I wake up out of a sound sleep to find two peacefully sleeping children solely because my brain is panicked THAT I HAVEN’T BEEN WOKEN UP YET.
And worse than that? In as many years as it’s taken to collect that list, I’ll be just on the cusp of laying awake at night worrying about a teenager. For as much as that I’ll Love You Forever book creeps me right the hell out, I get it. While I doubt I’ll be driving across town with a ladder strapped to the roof of my car, I’m sure I’ll be tearfully longing for the nights I was woken up by a curly haired kid who heard a dinosaur tapping on the window.
But for now, in the famous words of literary genius Adam Mansbach, “Go the f*ck to sleep”.