Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Jill Pertler
For most of my adult life I've sought after, coveted and yearned for more of it. I've tried numerous tactics, attempted various maneuvers, but always came up short. Seems no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can never get enough sleep.
Like most things in life, I blame this on my kids. Oh sure, there's been some scheduling issues on my end; my husband and I had the intelligence to spread our offspring out in such a manner that we were either pregnant or with a baby or toddler in the house for 14 consecutive years. I know what you're thinking: What were they thinking?
What can I say? Hindsight is 20/20. The glass is half full. Don't count your chickens (Or would that be sheep?) before they are hatched; and sleep is never, ever over-rated.
Everyone understands you don't sleep well during pregnancy. I can't speak for my husband, but I found the watermelon-like protrusion to be a sleep-inhibitor. Well-intentioned people told me it was the world's way of getting me ready for the baby. What a bunch of hooey. Nothing can get you ready for the real thing. By the time the baby comes around, the sleep you got during pregnancy seems Rip Van Winkle-ish.
There are people who will tell you their baby slept through the night starting at 3-days old; I hate them (the parents, not the babies). My babies never slept through the night. They still don't; we'll get to that later.
I'm forced to take responsibility for my state of affairs. It wasn't so much that my babies weren't good sleepers; I was an easy-waker. I segued from rapid eye movement to wide-eyed status at the slightest hiccup or gurgle. I couldn't help myself. If my babies so much as peeped or pooped, I had to get up out of bed to make sure they remained warm, dry and well-fed.
I inadvertently booby-trapped (bad choice of words, sorry) any chance they had of being a baby who slept through the night.
This continued for 14 years. Fourteen years. Stop now, repeat the phrase and let the words sink in. Pause, and realize that 14 years ago Justin Bieber was 2-years-old (and probably sleeping through the night, unlike any offspring of mine). Bill Clinton was serving his first term as President, O.J. Simpson was in court with his civil trial. Box office hits included Fargo and Jerry Maguire. Beanie babies were the latest fad. Remember when? Fourteen years is a long time.
Even more so when you are not sleeping.
You can imagine my excitement when my last child graduated from the toddler years. (Sigh of relief coupled with sigh of disbelief here.) Everyone in the house was over the age of 3, potty trained, speaking in full sentences and sleeping through the night. All true, except the last part.
There's a downside to spreading your kids throughout an entire decade: once the youngest leaves the toddler years, the eldest has grown into what is commonly known as a teenager.
Teenagers prevent parents from sleeping through the night as surely as babies cry for their blankies. With teenagers, however, the equation shifts. It isn't about waking up in the middle of the night; it's about never going to bed in the first place.
To a teenager, midnight is just the beginning. And, while I may think I am going to go to bed before they do, I habitually find my eyes open and my rapid eye movement halted when they call to tell me they're running late (ring, ring), arrive home (door slam), make pizza at midnight (smoke alarm) or watch a late night movie (volume!).
Who am I to complain? I realize it's all in the name of parenting. I signed up for this gig 19 years ago; I've already survived two decades without sleep. If I'm doing my math right, I only have another 10 years to go before my youngest exits the teen years. (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.)
If the stars align, I might even have grandkids by then. I only hope they come over to spend the night occasionally. I should be so lucky.
Who needs sleep anyway?