There’s something about being awoken by your child in the middle of the night that is different than any other interruption. It may, in the first instant, be as annoying as the cell phone chiming, the snoring husband, or the neighbor’s dog. But when consciousness comes and you see your child’s face, a switch is flipped.
My second child came down with strep throat this week and after my first solid eight hours of sleep in a few nights, I’m reflecting on the value of a quality night’s rest. My sister has a 4 month old and thinking of her, along with my own recent lack of sleep, leaves me in awe of mothers…again.
I found myself unable to focus on anything yesterday. My son was home from school, resting in bed the majority of the day. I didn’t get out of my pajamas. I puttered around the house, pinned a bunch of stuff on Pinterest, caught up with everyone on Facebook, and did a little bit of work on my website. But only a little because when it came to a slightly more complex step, the solution wouldn’t come to me. I have the knowledge in my brain as to how to do it, I just couldn’t access it.
I snacked on cookies and pita chips, telling myself that collectively the calories I was ingesting equalled that of a pretty balanced breakfast and lunch. I drank some water but pretty much nursed my bottomless cup of coffee all day. Man! A few nights of bad sleep and I lost all motivation and inspiration! How did I live like this for all those years?! From 2001 to 2005 I had only a few pockets of time when I had consistent, restorative sleep. Between being pregnant 3 times, nursing, reactive airway with two of the kiddos, and toddlers, it’s no wonder my memories of this time are so blurred! And my kids were good sleepers!
So Mamas out there–give yourself a break. It’s not always going to be like this, I promise. Caring for our little ones always takes priority. But tied up there with maintaining their safety and health should be tending to your own needs. Set yourself up for success by staying one step ahead and take advantage of gifts when they present themselves. Cut up a bunch of fruit and veggies so when you’re mindlessly grazing to keep you going, at least it’s healthy for your body. Keep a book in the car so if you find your little one has crashed in his car seat you can pull over and escape to another world for a little while. Let your partner clean up after dinner and handle bedtime so you can soak in a tub and crawl under the sheets a couple hours earlier than you normally would. The value of sleep is not to be underestimated. No one knows this more than the parents in the trenches. And when you’re on the other side of it, identify the parents that are in the thick of it and bring them a meal, or babysit for a couple hours. Just because you can. Because you can put a couple thoughts together and follow through on your intentions. That’s one of the many lights at the end of this tunnel.