Saturday, March 21, 2009
Waking up in a single bed with my three year old, again
There's some great discussion going on over at Momformation about sleep.
Sleep. Everybody's talking about it. Nobody's getting it.
We claim to treasure it. As parents we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy making sure our kids get enough of it. Yet when it comes to ourselves, we brush it off as expendable. A luxury. An obstacle to productivity. A waste of time even.
"I can sleep when I get old," I was fond of saying when I was a college party girl. "Life is too short to sleep. What if I miss something?"
Well... now I am old, possibly prematurely, and I'm dying for sleep. Dying for it. I crave it like a vampire craves blood. I feel the effects of its deprivation daily. I am a bitch, I am short tempered, irritable, slow to smile and laugh. I am ugly. And nobody likes, or needs, an ugly Mommy.
Rather than sleep when the opportunity for a nap arises, I just take a walk, or stuff my face with simple carbohydrates, chocolate, toast, a cup of coffee, or tea, and forge ahead with my day. It's like a contest of self abuse. But there's no prize money.
Like this blogger, I can still spend hours putting my three-year-old to bed. And once she's asleep, I can be sure she will wake up again, and again, looking for me, screaming for me, begging for me to come back to her.
"Mummmy I neeeeeeed you," she'll shriek in the night. "I want you in my bed. I want to cuddle you."
Despite how adorable she may be, when I'm woken in the night, from a deep, increasingly rare REM session, the sounds of my adorable, needy child do not bring out my maternal side. No. They bring out my dark side. They bring out my selfish side. My inner sleep-deprived child oozes out of me unchecked. And the ooze is thick. The ooze is sticky. It's not at all pretty.
"Isla," I hiss through clenched teeth, as I lay down beside her. (It's either hiss or cry.)
"Mummy is trying to sleep. Mummy needs sleep just like you do. Please, please, please, stop yelling and let me sleep.Please," I beg.
She slips her warm, skinny arms firmly around my neck and pulls me tightly to her.
"I'm sorry, Mummy," she says. "I'm sorry."
With those two words, slipping quietly, sincerely, from her sweetest little mouth, the auto focus suddenly kicks in I begin to see clearly. This is a tiny little child, looking for the reassurance of her warm mother in the dark. Why does it anger me so?
I soften, breathe deeper, and let my big, tired, body relax under her grip. "I wike to cuddle you, Mummy," she whispers. "You're my Mummy."
When I wake up, cramped and stiff, in her single bed, again, her small leg is thrown over my torso. She's always touching me. Her little red lips are puffing in and out steadily, peacefully. She is beautiful.
She opens her round blue eyes in the early morning sun. "There you are, Mummy," she says.
"I found you."
When not sleeping in a single bed with my thee year old, I'm dealing with the increasingly emotional antics of my seven year old.