I’m staring at the list I made of all the topics I’m passionate about. It’s a mighty fine list;. I used the few felt tip pens that haven’t lost their caps, there is the right mix of sensitive subjects and mom-tales. But, color coded ideas aside, all I can think of is that I’m so tired. That I’m viewing the world through a layer of fog that makes the afternoon seem almost dream-like. My eyes burn, but we have a fancy coffee maker, and so I prevail.
Sleep is the second most talked about thing at playdates (the first breastfeeding, and the third the fact that no one sleeps with their husbands) There’s talk of filling bottles with rice cereal, white noise machines and lavender essential oil on the soles of feet. Some let their littles cry it out, and everyone’s outraged. I too, feel slightly disgusted but mostly jealous. I don’t have the balls for that. At the sound of my son moving, I’m already there rocking the bassinet he grew out of, willing him to sleep. When he cries, I answer. It’s very Earth-Mama, except it’s not. At 4am I hiss that he needs to fucking sleep. I need to fucking sleep. Or I’m going to DIE.
Spoiler: I haven’t died.
I get weepy when I’m this tired. It feels like every night might be the end of the world. The rocking, the shhshh sound I make that drives my husband nuts but that I have absolutely no control over (it’s sort of like rocking shopping carts or hearing phantom children’s screams in the shower) I try the lavender oil, and over the course of nine years of parenting three beautiful children, I’ve amassed six or seven bottles. I couldn’t find a single one now, if you asked me. I give him massages, we listen to folk music sung by girls that sound about eleven years old. Gentle, whimsical music that I imagine, will lure you to sleep with dreams of angel wings and crystals. Speaking of crystals, I make a sleep pouch with dried herbs and stones that supposedly promote restfulness, because now I am pagan. I will be anything if you sleep.
I realize, every night, around 10, that I could just go to bed now, with the baby. I could fall asleep and each time he wakes to eat, it wouldn’t be so horrible. There would still be six, seven hours until he woke for the day. That’s like, four more than I’m used to. But instead I do math. I calculate just how long I can stay up clicking “like” on Pinterest. If I go to bed by 2am, I could get five hours. That’s without night-feeds, but I dont count those for some reason.
My husband and I fight. He got to sleep in 60 seconds longer. He snored through at least three night-wakings. He should be lucky we still have sex. No one else I know does THAT. But I still love him. In my moments of clarity I know he’s tired. That he drives hours to work, and hours home on just as little sleep most days and doesn’t complain half as much as I do. That I love him, so much. And than my eyes burn with tears and yesterday’s mascara and I hate this flip flop of emotions that course thru me. From weepy and apologetic to so absolutely in love with my little family, and back to white with rage that my son woke up the baby, again.
The truth is, I’ll be fine. My nine and six year old sleep well. They have bedtimes and I get to leave and go downstairs before their eyes even close. Sans bad dreams and illness, most nights they don’t wake up. There’s no magical elixir. Babies aren’t wired to sleep eight hour stretches. Even the gentlest, magical of bedtime routines won’t promise that.
But one day it will, maybe even tomorrow. And so I will hold on to that sliver of hope like it’s my light in the darkest night, while I sip my fourth coffee.