Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Favorite Sleep Stories

Sleep is a funny thing.  I used to sleep a lot before I had kids. You could say it was my favorite hobby. I was a big baby about sleep, and had this theory that if I didn't get enough I would be miserable. I have actually cried real tears (pre-kids) because I couldn't sleep. Once the dog farting kept waking me up, and I was blubbering like a two year old because I was going to be tired the next day.  Wuss.  I had no idea what true sleep-deprivation was.

I had first one baby, then two, and I think it's safe to say I have never slept the same. The sound of one tiny foot hitting the floorboard in the middle of the night is enough to wake any mother.  For some reason it doesn't seem to have the same effect on fathers, I'm not sure why.

My ex and I got a puppy before we had kids. This puppy needed to be walked in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter.  We lived in an apartment, so taking the puppy outside involved clothes and a leash, not just opening the back door.

We decided to take turns taking the puppy out, seeing as we both worked full-time. It was a good plan, except for one problem; he never got up. He could sleep through the puppy barking and I could not. Well, he said he didn't wake up, but I didn't believe him. I was pretty sure he was awake and just lying there waiting for me to deal with the puppy.  I was a lighter sleeper, and once I was up, I was up, so I might as well get up and take the dog out. 

I asserted that it wasn't fair, but night after night, he snored (sometimes with a pillow over his head to block the barking) and I got up and walked the dog.  He contended I should try the pillow trick and complain less. 

I was exhausted and fed up of being the only one to get up in the middle of the night, every night, that I did the only rational thing. The next time the puppy woke up and my ex just pretended not to hear, I kicked him. Hard. And pretended I was asleep.

We had a colossal row. The biggest, loudest fight of our marriage. I argued that he pawned off the dog on me every night,  He claimed the puppy never woke him up. He felt the act of kicking him was violent behavior and unacceptable. I contended that I kicked him in my sleep and must have been having a bad dream. Yup, I lied like a rug.

We made up, and life went on, but I didn't confess for years. It wasn't until our first child was born that I cracked.  When we both had reached a state of complete sleep deprivation, I finally confessed that on that night years ago I kicked him on purpose.  We both laughed.  We had no idea how tired we could be and live, back before kids, when we only had the puppy. 

It took me a long time to learn to nap while the children were awake. No matter how tired I was, I just couldn't relax enough to fall asleep. I had friends who did it, but I just wasn't a good enough sleeper, or tired enough, I guess.  Now they are older, and naps are easier and safer, but I don't know if I will ever love them more than the day they gave me my first nap.

About a year after I had been a single mother, I finally got my first nap.  It was the day after my birthday, and I had stayed up too late the night before. Somehow, I had managed to fall asleep to some children's show while the kids were running around the living room.  The oldest, then four, woke me up once to tell me the baby was trying to eat my necklace. I was rescued my necklace and managed to fall asleep again.  While I slept, the big one went into the kitchen and brought my birthday cake into the living room.  The little guy (18 months) sat next to it and licked all the frosting off, while his big brother used his hands to feed himself.  When I woke up, it looked like a cake-bomb had gone off on the carpeting.  All I could think was that it was totally worth it to get an hour's sleep.

Call me crazy, but I miss those days.  Life was harder with tiny ones, but also sweeter.

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