Welcome to Parenthood, Please Surrender Your Pillow

Are you getting enough? Sleep, I mean. Growing up it was drilled into us ‘get your beauty sleep, eight hours every night’. Who wrote that fantasy piece for science weekly? Has anyone ever gotten eight hours of sleep a night? I think I may have once, but I am pretty sure it was also my graduating week of college and it may have been an ‘induced’ slumber, which by all practical terms doesn’t count because, well, you don’t feel any better for it the next day.

Sleep must have, at some point in my life, been something I was enjoying, otherwise I would not be so saddened by its’ absence. There was also a time in my youth when I was wrinkle free and perky in all the right places, so I must have been fulfilling my ‘beauty sleep’ quota. My recollection is foggy at best. Today, seventeen years post induction to sleep deprivation (or arrival of my first child) there are days when my ‘beauty’ resembles the “I put that $%#& on everything” lady in the Frank’s Red Hot commercial. My name is Michelle and I have not slept in almost eighteen years. Yes, my youngest has been out of diapers and night time feedings for well over 10 years. Mothers of newborns I hereby apologize for extinguishing the light at the end of your tunnel but having come this far I firmly believe there is a distinct possibility that as parents, we may never sleep again.

The only good advice I received about sleep when my babies were born came from my Gran; she was a fountain of good, practical, spot on advice. She said to me “Sleep when the babies sleep.” That was a great tip and I made sure to quote her each time my husband commented about a clean sock and underwear shortage.

Sadly, when my Gran passed away my children were still ‘babies’ so I never got her next stage of advice. Gran what do I do when they aren’t babies anymore and I am still deprived of sleep. What do I do when my kids are big enough to pee in the dark, put their own blankets back on and make it to the bathroom before throwing up and they still keep me up with nightmares and tummy aches? How do I get rest when they have fevers, fall out of bed and sleepwalk? What then Gran? I wondered. I imagined my Gran telling me to muddle through. So I did, thinking that she would also advise that my sleeping years were just around the corner.

We are around the corner I imagined she meant; my children are teenagers now. There is no sleep. If anything I get less sleep now, picking kids up from work at midnight or delivering them on a Saturday morning at 6am. I am not getting more rest waiting for them to get home from babysitting jobs or driving friends home as curfew times approach. My beauty is not being improved tossing and turning waiting for them to be returned home by other DPs (Designated Parents) or the very scary ‘newly licensed ‘friend’ or worse still, the terrifying ‘newly licensed selves’. I don’t rest well listening to them enjoy late night TV or demolish the kitchen in the moonlight.

I am in a desperate pit of sleep deprivation! In the absence of my Gran’s wisdom on child rearing I asked my mother, “When am I ever going to sleep again?” do you know what her answer was? …. “You sleep when you’re dead.”

I decided not to ask her advice about the ‘other’ things my children are ensuring we might not be getting enough of in the bedroom.

I miss my Gran.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

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