My son, Oliver, is 13 months old. He is the most charming and handsome kid I’ve ever met, but some days I have to remind myself how much I love him.
You see, Oliver is not a sleeper. My husband and I are.
I need a full, uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep. My husband, Matt, works a lot of night shifts and is rarely home to help in the wee hours.
When Oliver was born, he slept well during the day but was very alert at night. Easy, I thought. We’ll keep him awake during the day so he has to sleep at night. And he did.
But, then, one milestone hit after another, along with an onslaught of travel, illnesses, dogs barking and growth spurts. Everything seemed to wake him up in the middle of the night.
I’ve rocked him back to sleep, I’ve fed him til he passed out, I have co-slept, I have Ferberized him. But, guaranteed, if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he will be awake for precisely two hours. And, then he’ll be ready to start the day at 6:30 in the morning.
Many well-meaning people have shared advice. But, when I talk to friends who have kids in the same stage, they tell me their kids also wake up in the middle of the night… Often. And, that’s the best advice I got, because it’s true.
I think people like to say their kid sleeps through the night as soon as they hit the point at which they CAN sleep through the night. That doesn’t mean they ALWAYS DO. But, it seems as if once out of the baby stage, people forget that their kid also woke up often. So, they have great wisdom and anecdotes, all of which make me feel like a worthless excuse for a parent.
The truth is that I am tired. Really, really tired. I have survived on less than six hours of interrupted sleep for the last year. It’s not natural or healthy to sleep like that. My mind is foggy, everything hurts, and the bags under my eyes are not even disguisable any more.
When my husband has a day/night off work, he often gets the night time duty. But, there is something about being woken in the middle of the night that makes people crazy. Inevitably, if he gets up with Oliver, we’ll have an argument over something stupid – like the order in which you should change a diaper and give a bottle. My sister warned me of this, and though I thought she was crazy, she was right.
The other day when I picked up Oliver from childcare, they were concerned because he had only napped for an hour and a half, where the other kids slept for 2-3 hours. I was like WTF?! That’s an hour longer than he naps at home!
Oliver is so happy. Like, ridiculously cheerful all the time. He is not lacking sleep. He just doesn’t need that much. And, I think that’s okay. I’m exhausted, but there is nothing I can do to change him. So, I’ve changed my attitude.
At night, I tell myself that he will, most likely, wake up for two hours in the middle of the night and then wake up at 6:30 in the morning. I might get lucky and he’ll sleep all night, but I’m not betting on it anymore. To get 8 hours of sleep, I need to go to bed at 8:30 pm. I can choose to do this, or I can choose to live without two hours of sleep and do something for myself during this time. Resetting my thinking has put the control back in my hands, and I can decide which will make me a better person.
And, guess what? Apparently, I’d rather live without the two hours of sleep. I love to experience life… why put that off so I can sleep a little more? I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
From one tired mom who is reframing her thoughts,