08 Jan “Sleep, I remember you”
I was just talking to one of my friends this morning who is in that excruciatingly difficult time when you have a couple of children who don’t sleep at all, her husbands away, and you regularly forget what day it is. That haze definitely doesn’t last, but when you are in it, you just want people to get it and you just want to know that sometime soon, you will be able to take a big cozy blanket into a closet, shut the door and sleep for 2 weeks. That will never happen, but its ok to tell yourself continuiously that someday it will.
It has now been just over 8 years since I have had the opportunity to sleep through the night. Eight years. I’m not exaggerating. My oldest son is 8 and has only stayed in his own bed a handful of times in his life. Most nights in a week, I would say about 7/7; he’s in our bed before midnight. He is a sleepwalker and he and I are both convinced that its so routine for him that he is actually sleeping when the makes the trek across the hall. One night, I woke up to him crying in the dark and I found him in a box. Another night when he was 2 or 3, I woke up to him crying in the kitchen after he had scaled the baby gate and gone downstairs in the dark. His nights are always an adventure, thus so are mine. On that handful of nights he has stayed in his bed, we have been up or had accompaniment in our bed by one of our other kids keeping our streak alive. Last night we had 3.
We have tried sleep training, we have tried letting them cry, we have tried noise machines, laying on the floor, laying down with them, singing, stories, those apps about the sleepy rabbit and dark blinds. The bottom line is that my husband and I just breed children who do not go down, or stay down, without a fight.
So I guess you could say, I know what other mothers say when they tell you they are “tired.” Right now, although running strong at 8 years, it’s not even that bad. I have gotten used to bodies beside me in my bed and if in the run of the night, that’s all it is, it’s a restful one. A year ago I was averaging 2-3 hours of broken sleep a night, 1-2 freak-outs from someone and an infant who was colicky. Having bodies in my bed are a breeze compared to that stage. There was another point where one of my children could only sleep if his feet were inside my pajamas and he was holding and twisting my hair and during that same period, my daughter could only sleep with her hand on my chest and her other hand touching my lips. I wish I was kidding. That was hard. I felt like a mistreated puppet and in the mornings, I could hardly move my back, my hair would be in dreadlocks and my lips would be cracked and chapped. My husband, who I will go on record and say is the greatest dad, for real, would make a comment like “they were annoying in bed last night,” and I literally would have to hold myself back from attacking him. If he tried to hug me I would recoil like a wild animal and he would look at me like I was insane. I literally could not handle one more anything touching me. I was as tired as a human could be but I had the reflexes of a ninja if I was approached with the potential of human touch. As much as it’s awesome to technically have back up at night, when the sun goes down, my kids wanted nothing to do with anyone else but me. Yes my husband still had to share his bed with several bodies, but he still woke up with his hair untangled and his lips in tact thus lost all privileges to complain about the night.
Although, the worst of it is behind me, I will never forget what it feels like to feel that tired and to all of those people out there feeling that way….. you rock. You are awesome, you are a trooper, you are a fighter and you are the worlds best human to the little people in your house. Soldier on and it will get easier.
Self care is hard in those challenging stages but there are a few things to do everyday that will help keep you going. These tips are in no way backed by any research or come from any sort of professional. They just come from me, a mom of four kids who has experienced many adventures between the hours of 8:00 pm and 8:00 am..
-Whatever you drink in coffee, double your intake in water. You probably will not be measuring, but coming from someone whose staples were once coffee and pb sandwiches, lots water will make you feel better, I promise.
-Brush your teeth everyday. I’m sure there was a time in your life you would think I’m disgusting for saying this, but many of you will understand.
-Change out of your pajamas into clothing and wash your face. You will feel like Beyonce.
-Move your body anyway. This is the last thing tired moms ever want or feel like doing- but its probably the most important for your mental health. You don’t need to sign up for a marathon or anything crazy, but just try and move everyday. That you will never regret.
-Laundry will never stop, but you can. Take a nap if you get a chance. You rarely get the opportunity to sleep when everything in life is organized and clean because it rarely is, so if the chance to sleep presents itself, take it.
You don’t need to listen to the “it goes by so fast comments/enjoy it,” because you yourself will know all of this to be true. No one likes to feel exhausted so just let those comments slide. Remind yourself you do and will continue to enjoy the beautiful things that being a parent can bring because otherwise you wouldn’t of stuck it out this long. You’re just tired and you need a minute. It’s really ok. Over the last few years when I was having my most tired moments, my Mom would always say “this stage will pass.” My advice now to you if you would like it, is to remember one thing everyday…it will pass, it will come, you will feel whole again, and you are awesome.