Bedtime: the Battle and the War

O: I'm never going to sleep. I'm going to be awake forever. You can't make me sleep and I won't.

Tonight's bedtime was epic. It was a toy-throwing, tantrum-filled, they-are-lucky-that-they-are-cute, kind of bedtime.  It was the kind of bedtime where there had to be ice in the water, where P had to go potty three separate times, where we switched pajamas and rubbed lotion on their feet. It was the kind of bedtime where you wonder what you are doing wrong. (Best guess-everything)

It was the kind of bedtime that made me want a glass of wine.

I remember watching the sitcoms of my childhood, where parents happily bundled the adorable children off to bed: a story book, a kiss on the forehead, tucked in tight, done. That is not what it looks like over here. Maybe at some point, it will, but not now. Right now, it's a battle or maybe a war. Some nights we make ground, and feel like we might be winning. Tonight was not one of those nights.

Tomorrow will be different, maybe better, maybe worse, but they are asleep, for now. 

Somebody, send help, or maybe just more wine. 

 

A Glimpse of Peace

Every now and then, I get these glimpses of peace.

It used to only happen when they were both asleep. At night, after they had both nodded off, I would breathe in the silence of the house, content that they were both right where they belonged, safe and dreaming.

Then, it started happening when one of them was sleeping, or at school, or with a grandparent. O would become engrossed with some made-up play that didn't require my narration, or P would climb into my lap, content to silently twirl a piece of my hair around her tiny finger. 

But now, and only very recently, it is happening when they are both awake. The moments are fleeting and mercurial. The slightest noise or distraction can upset them. But with increasing frequency, there is peace in my house. Sometimes, they find a way to play together. Sometimes, they are playing separately, side by side, but lost to each other in a world of imagination. Once, I even discovered O using a picture book to tell P a story, but a heated debate about who should turn the page quickly ended that and resulted in a torn book, pulled hair, and hurt feelings. 

Glimpses of peace. I'll take it. 

The Fatigue Factor

O: Will you just stay and rub and jostle me for a few more hours? Just a few more hours and that's it. 

When you first have a baby, everyone asks how you are sleeping.  Is he or she making it through the night? How often are you getting up for feedings?  No one talks about how nearly four years later, you still might be sleeping in two to three hour stretches. How, unless you live in Bruce Wayne's manor house, tiny human #1 is inevitably waking up tinier human #2 and visa versa, like some never-ending ouroboros, consuming its own tail.  

god, they are lucky they are cute

god, they are lucky they are cute

We are so exhausted, we regularly have text conversations like the one below, usually while one of us is patting a tiny tushy.  WARNING: the text below contains content that is not rated for some viewers.  It not only uses foul language, but it also makes a passing reference to the act that got us into this mess.  Scroll at your own risk.  

please note the time stamp   

please note the time stamp

 

Nobody talks about what happens to your brain somewhere around year three, how you forget things, basic things, like how old you are (I've added an extra year to my age for nearly all of the last calendar year), how you will count five hours where you don't get out of bed as a "good night," how even when everything else is really pretty wonderful, it can start to feel like nothing is working.  

I'm here to tell you, the fatigue factor is a real thing.  It is hard. It is unreasonable. It can feel untenable. Starting your day on two and a half hours of sleep and ending it lying in bed filled with anxiety about when the next wake-up will be, is not a recipe for a good night. 

Someday, we will sleep until we feel like getting up. Someday, we will be dragging their cranky teenaged butts out of bed to do something enriching, whether they like it or not. Someday, we will be well rested.  Today is not that day.  To all of the other sleep-deprived parents out there, I salute you.  Keep your chin up, your pillow fluffed, and your back to the door, because maybe, this time, they'll go back to sleep on their own.  Maybe.