Sleep is not expendable.

A few days ago, Rara wrote this post about blogging in her sleep, and I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy over her proclivity to sleepwalk her way to her keyboard and pound out words. The only thing I do in my sleep is dream about going back to high school and riding elevators naked. If I could literally write in my sleep, I would spam you guys way more than I do now, but trust me, it would be worth it. I would probably break out some f-words and tell you things that would make my mom damn the day I learned to read and write.

I can sacrifice a lot of things in my life in an effort to streamline my days and maximize my time. I don’t feel bad cutting the corners on feeding my family and making a thirty-minute meal into a ten-minute meal. I can skip lunch. I can put off the laundry one more day, and I don’t care too much if I leave the house wearing unironed pants. However, the more I live and the deeper I get into this parenting gig, the more I realize that I am incapable of skimping on sleep. When I don’t get a full dreamless eight hours, I am not only useless to the world but also the world’s number one hater. Everything I touch seems to suffer. Every word I write has to be beaten out.

For the last couple weeks, I have been waking in the morning and not feeling refreshed at all. I expect that this has something to do with the arrival of Cee’s new toddler skills. I’m a creature of habit, so now that she has done away with her second nap and is talking a lot more, I am having to figure out how to mom a child who relies on me for far more than food. While every week brings on new challenges when you’re raising a baby whose skills arrive slowly enough for you to manage them by only slightly adjusting your routine and mindset, you often end those weeks knowing (or at least convincing yourself) that the baby is still a baby. You’re still a parent to a small, somewhat static person. Lies.

I can’t tell myself that anymore. My girl is growing up and needing me to guide her through her often frightening emotions. I am no longer just a giver of food and coaxer of naps. Whereas only a year ago she used to wake in the night to be fed or changed, last night she woke up in a terror over, presumably, a bad dream. (We went to the mall on Labor Day, so we certainly populated her mind with a lot of frightening images. Think Black Friday is bad? Try a highly-publicized sale at Macy’s.) I picked her up out of her crib and she was shaking and sobbing. I carried her to the sofa where I used to nurse her, and I held her up against me and whispered to her that while she was frightened at God knows what, I was there to chase the Nasties away. It had been so long since one of our midnight rendezvous that I noticed how her moonlight appearance had changed. Far less pudge around her face and longer hair that I could rake my hands through. It was one of those Moments whose power belies its smallness.

She was fine after awhile and I put her back to bed. We never heard another peep out of her so I guess she fell back asleep without a lot of effort. I fell back asleep fairly easy too, but I still woke feeling groggy and grumpy. Clearly, even if I’m not blogging in my sleep, I’m doing something. Figuring out how to care for a child as she transitions from babyhood to childhood is something I’m going to need a lot of rest doing, and that is frustrating to me because I have always deluded myself that I could put off my own bedtime for a couple hours if I really needed to.

Not so.

Someone put on the coffee.

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30 comments

  1. I don’t have a child to take care of, so I really don’t have any excuse, but I’m having a hard time with sleep lately. It takes me forever to settle in. The temperature’s not right. I wake up, and I feel like I never even slept at all. So yeah, me and sleep have been having some drama lately, too.

    1. Sleep needs to stop acting like she owns the joint.

  2. This is so, so sweet. I know I can’t even hold the tiniest candle or even flickering lighter to you, but I find the same. If I could change one thing about myself, it might just be this: I would make myself able to function on less sleep. For whatever reason, I am insanely sensitive to the smallest things, and every time I get up super early in an attempt to show myself who’s boss and get into a new morning routine, I end up being a useless zombie. Le sigh.

    1. I used to say that if I had one magical power, it would be to be good at math, but now I would totally cash that in for a lifetime of good, restful sleep. I’d almost rather be rested 100% of the time than be able to fly.

  3. Girl, we’re all just a bunch of high-functioning zombies. I will not lie and say it will get better. Like everything else, you will adapt. I promise.

    1. I think you’re right! As long as I don’t have to eat any brains, I am kind of OK with being a zombie. ;D Do I get to be in the Thriller video?

  4. Naps for you will come back – it takes a couple of years, but it will all work itself out.

    1. I am holding you to that ;D

  5. Being a mommy is harder than being a blogger, and sleep is a precious resource for you because you’re sharing your energy with another being still. It all comes back, and when it does, you’ll be one up on the rest of us who don’t have practice sharing our most precious of resources. *hugs* Loved this. Your writing is so engaging.

    1. Awww, thanks. That means a lot to me coming from you, Rara. For me at least, writing and parenting are really tangled up together because I rely so much on writing to keep myself balanced and sane when things get tough. When I don’t have the energy to write, I end up getting frustrated.

  6. I am the same way. If I don’t get adequate sleep, all bets are off. And it doesn’t help that we live in a day and age where it is considered not cool or weak to need that stupid sleep stuff. It’s like everyone is in some weird competition to survive on the least amount of sleep. But I simply cannot survive on a routine of less than a full night of sleep other than the occasional short night (after which we ALL suffer, lemme tell ya). So I say guard that sleep mama. It’s necessary for the well being of the whole family!

    1. Amen! Preach! Sometimes I look back to when my daughter was a newborn and neither my husband nor I were sleeping, and I sincerely don’t know how we survived. Those months alone almost make me not want to have another child.

  7. Even though I need a good 7-8 hours a night, I always fight going to bed. Sleep is restful, but so boring. :-P Then I’m groggy and cranky next morning. Bad cycle to get into. :-P

    And on a different note, I loved that paragraph about the moonlight moment. So beautifully written – made me tear up, and I’m not even a mom. :) It made me think, though, of when my little sister was a baby, and I was so sad when she started growing up and losing the baby fat in her face. Those chipmunk cheeks were the best. And now her son is following suite and his round little cheeks aren’t as pudgy as they were 6 months ago. *sniffles*

    1. It is so wonderful yet heartbreaking to see them lose their little cheeks! Even though C is definitely still a baby, she’s a big baby now. It makes me miss her infant days so much, and it is so crazy to even hear myself say that because those infant days are so hard and slow when they’re happening.

  8. Oh how I long for a good night’s sleep! If I’m not up until the wee hours to chat with one of my kids (in another country), or waiting for one of them to come home, I’m awake because I’m just middle aged, and it sucks! When they were little… I was sleepless too. If you figure this out, let me know; I’m chronically fatigued! (and since I gave up caffein, oy!)

    1. I am convinced that if you can give up caffeine and live to tell the tale, you are pretty much superhuman. Good luck with that!

      1. Gave it up three years ago. Call me Superwoman! (Do I get brownie points for giving it up while back packing in India with my- then – 18 yr old)?

  9. I’m ok for one or two nights on not-enough sleep but by day three, I’m starting to turn into a wreck of a woman… Hence, I have chosen the childless way of life.

    1. Sleep and small children are mortal enemies.

  10. I, for one, would appreciate a few well-place f-bombs. For what it’s worth.

    And my Baby C woke up in the middle of the night last night, too. He hasn’t done that in a while.

    1. I’d love to drop them. Unfortunately, my mom reads this blog and as far as she is concerned, the baby was conceived through immaculate conception. You know where I drop the f-bombs, though ;D

      1. I know! You can drop them on my little corner of the web, too! Hint, hint…

  11. Love this post! Each sentence has me hooked! I can totally understand how it feels as a mum of kids who stir many times in a night. It takes years for me to have a good night sleep for solid 5 hours (yes, only 5) when they stop making some sounds in their sleep. Right now, with my new baby, I am back to super interrupted sleep and I have to work the next day! Such sleep deprived hours will never be compensated. I am one who needs enough sleep to function well.

    1. So am I! Sleep is such a precious commodity and it’s a shame that we can only appreciate it once we’re not getting enough of it.

  12. I love this! Makes me sad that the kids grow overnight. You would think we would witness this because we are awake through it all anyway. Ha.

    1. OMG, excellent point!

  13. Guess what I’m doing right now? NOT sleeping. It never feels that bad to me when it happens – in fact, trying to catch up on some blogs feels rather delicious right now – but consequences will be paid in a few short hours.

    My son, at 8 months, is just starting to get a bit more mobile – and I’m just getting a glimpse of the challenges and fun of this…

    1. Oh man, I remember back when my gal was around that same age and thinking that while it was so fun to see her move around a little unassisted, it was also daunting to know that she was only going to get faster. (Spoiler alert: they DO get faster, and it happens a lot quicker than you’d think!) It’s a mixed bag, but the good part is that by virtue of their mobility, you get an extra workout each day just trying to rein them in.

  14. I too Emily can deal with many nasty things during the day , as long as I KNOW I CAN SLEEP THAT NIGHT! The prospect of having to get up in the night again and and again repeatedly was a big factor in my not having nine children. Along with the prospect of insanity.

    1. Yeah, insanity is not winning anyone over! It needs a new PR team.

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