The last time I got a really good night’s sleep was about nine years ago, and I know the exact date: December 9, the day before my first child was born.
That was the last time I:
a) Regularly went to sleep at a decent hour
b) Regularly woke up at a decent hour
c) Wasn’t awoken in the middle of the night by a child
d) Wasn’t mauled in my sleep by a co-sleeping child
e) Didn’t lie awake in bed worrying about some child
f) All of the above, and what was I talking about again? Sorry, my brain is sluggish.
Strange but true: There are all these medications that warn you not to operate machinery when you take them because they may cause drowsiness, but nobody ever warns you that children may cause drowsiness and that perhaps you should not operate them when you are exhausted. (Not that you have a choice.)
To be sure, the sleep-deprivation is most intense during the first few months after you bring your new alarm clock home, when he has not yet gotten the memo that there are these great inventions called “day” and “night” and that people typically sleep at “night.” Then again, nobody ever remembers those first months with a baby, anyway, or the world would not keep populating.
The sleep deprivation in the months and years that follow is harder to forget as it is often caused by traumatic events such as a child screeching “MOMMMMMMMY! DARK!” at the top of her lungs at 3:14 a.m. Or being awoken by a toddler whacking you in the face with his arm or kicking you in the kidneys with his knee as you lay next to him in your bed, painfully aware that you should have heeded the pediatrician’s warning about cosleeping. Or being awoken by a four-year-old who bounds out of bed at the crack of dawn, eager to play with his trucks with battery-produced noises that break the sound barrier.
Back in college, I practically majored in sleep; in my twenties, I was renowned among friends for being able to snooze till the afternoon. Now, I go to sleep around midnight and wake up at 6:30 or 7:00. For my birthday, the gift I always ask my husband for is to sleep late (well, that and jewelry or something, but it’s the sleep I most covet). And every year, I sadly realize that I have lost my talent for sleeping late because I inevitably roll out of bed by 8:30. There is a reason the phrase goes “Sleep like a baby” and not “Sleep like a Mommy.”
When I die, I am willing to donate my body to science so they can study the results of sleep deprivation. Because it is entirely unclear how us moms manage to keep going (and going).
Now, what was I saying again?