I have a friend, B, who has two children almost exactly six weeks older than my two children. We are waiting for her and her brood at the kid-friendliest coffee shop in town when I get a text: Be there soon - temper tantrum.
And I think: OH HECK YEAH! Because if she had shown up showered and smiley with two bright-eyed, well-behaved kids, I would’ve dumped my chai latte on her head and sent my three-year-old to bite her sons.
What can I say? I’m a bitter, sleep-deprived friend. I’m sure that I would have been happy for her eventually, but there is something utterly cathartic about having a mom who GETS IT when you are hanging on by the Velcro of your cloth diaper.
I greet her with: Been there with the tantrums!
And proceed to my tell-all audio book:
E has been freaking out at every transition including quiet time, getting dressed, preschool (coming and going), oh and any time I suggest we get in or out of the car. And although I can just barely accept that my eight-month-old has only slept through the night twice EVER, my three-year-old has joined the 4 a.m. party for about two weeks now. So like dueling banjos, they never duet, instead they miraculously space out waking up by about an hour from midnight to 5 a.m. when I finally give up and lay down in my son’s room to get an hour or so of sleep.
Oh, would you like to sit down?
(As I’m writing this, I had to run upstairs at 8:30 p.m. because N woke up. Yeah, it’s like that in my house. Because now it’s 9:30 and she is finally back to sleep. I hate teeth.)
No really, I appreciate the gift it is to have children. I like being a mother:
Three days ago, I’m in my son’s room at 5 a.m. and I tell E that we need to be quiet because it’s still sleepy-time. I drift off until: MAMA!! WHERE’S THE MOON!?!?! I say: E! I’m sleeping! E then whispers: Mama, where’s the moon?
(I’m pretty sure that God gave me such cute kids to save me from jail time.)
As a baby, E slept so little that he didn’t need a bed after he out grew his crib. Seriously. We tried everything. No method or book or pediatrician (including my husband) could make him sleep. He hates naps and beds and nighttime and pajamas and most of all, SLEEPING. The first time that E slept through the night for seven nights in a row coincided with the first week N was born. He was nearly 32 months old. SERIOUSLY.
N had been waking up only once-a-night for months now. Which was great! And I have an amazing husband who gets up for her first wake-up so I can sleep. (Yes, I know. He’s awesome. He really is. But this is such a small part of his awesomeness because honestly, don’t you think that your standards for fathers may be a little low? If I said that I got up once a night with the baby, would I get a parade?)
Now, N is waking up -- a LOT. But I know that N is teething and both my kids have colds that started in October. And E just transitioned to a new classroom and teacher. I get it. Life happens and with my kids, it means sleep does not.
And, perhaps, I don’t transition well either... Or sleep well... Or even like sleep that much. Perhaps...
As my husband pointed out last Sunday when Mario Manningham, a New York Giant wide-receiver, missed a pass that could have been a touchdown and N cried out in her sleep, my genes ARE dominant. Because I cried out, too. Maybe I need to be more realistic, I mean, what kid could sleep with that going on for half the season?
PS. Positive things that I’m doing to survive this period of no-sleep:
- Set my phone alarm for 9:30 p.m. so I will get ready for bed at a decent hour. My tendency is to want to stay up for a LONG time after the kids are asleep so I can be MEEEEEE. But the next morning, I’m a nut. So early to bed.
- Speaking of me, I go out every Wednesday night. No kids. No husband. No errands or grocery shopping. Sometimes I make plans with friends. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I get in the car and have no clue where I am going but I am PSYCHED to be gone. (My husband keeps his sanity by doing a similar outing on a weekend night.)
- I set my alarm five minutes before I have to get up to have a little quiet reflection before starting my day. If I don’t start with some peace, I’m probably not going to see it again.
- I talk to other moms and friends who are honest and nonjudgmental. And I listen to their advice while being totally okay with not always taking it.
- Not scheduling too much in one day because a mom on not-enough-sleep with a preschooler who finds transitions unbearable means one errand can take all morning (especially if I plan to be a patient and understanding mom). But I do get out of the house every morning with the kids for SOMETHING -- if only because N is refusing her morning naps these days. (Did I forget to complain about that?)
This post is written by Alex Iwashyna, a happily married mom with a BA in Philosophy and a Medical Degree and the drive to become neither. She is hopeful this writing thing pans out. Follow her rants on twitter.com/failebg but be prepared for baby poop and liberal bias.