Mothers of young babies, toddlers and ‘kids who should know how to sleep but don’t’, are you tired? Is your life one long interrupted night? Have you forgotten what it feels like to sleep a full night?
I sympathise with you. Babies and young children are wonderful, if only they came with some sort of night switch.
We spend our first nine months wishing the hours away, waiting impatiently to meet our precious bundle. We hear others laugh at our impatience as they shake their heads and say that we should sleep now because it will be a long time before we sleep again. We smile back, in a thank ‘you for your not needed advice’ sort of way, believing that we will have a baby similar to a relation of ours, who swears her baby always slept the night. Even if our sweetheart isn’t going to be one of those, we can’t imagine it could be that bad, sure when we were at college there were many mad nights out enjoyed, and we survived on very little sleep.
Then baby arrives and cries a lot. We are advised that we may have got one of those babies who can’t tell night from day. Great, obviously a bit like our other halves side of the family! After a few weeks that’s no longer an issue, but they are still crying. Now it’s colic, and, oh no we are told it may last weeks… Eventually that’s over. Wait they are still crying. What now? Oh it’s early teething… then growth spurts… followed by separation anxiety, and an A to Z of a myriad of other reasons why our child will not sleep. Before we know it, it’s been four years since we slept and we have no idea how we managed to conceive one or even two more babies in our sleep deprived state. With any luck in about ten years we might be through this… we hope.
Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Living with it is even worse. However as the years pass we forget there is a life in which people actually go to bed with their partner and wake up in the morning with no visitors having joined them. It becomes the norm to wake due to being kicked in the head, face, stomach and back. It is preferable to walking the floors acting as jailer to our forever escaping toddler, or failing miserably for hours to put our baby back in their cot.
Well tonight I wish to give you hope. All you exhausted Mamas and Papas, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Not only light but there is also a reward for all you have gone through. Consider all those sleepless nights as training. You are in training for some day in the future, when your life begins again.
I should know because after what felt like a lifetime, the night did come when all four of my children slept, and a new life began.
Take last night for example, I went out…. I’ll just let that sink in first. Yes I went out! Without a husband or any children. Out with ‘the girls’. We ate out late, and stayed even later. I forgot I had a phone, and there were no regular updates as to whether my children were in bed or sleeping. Best of all I returned to a quiet house of sleepers and slept the almost four hours left before morning. (I told you we stayed late)
I got up the next morning and due to the many years of sleep deprivation, my body, like a finely trained athlete, stepped up to the plate and I managed to get through the day without collapsing.
I’m not saying everyone will come out of mothering as well trained as I am, but I do think those of you most sleep deprived should take heart, the best really is yet to come.
Someday you will live a life again, you will find that person you used to be, and best of all every night you will sleep. Just hang in there.
photo credit: Pedro Klien via photopin cc
photo credit: Jack Fussell via photopin cc