On Saturday night around midnight, Number 6 woke up crying because his leg hurt.
This happens once or twice every couple weeks (growing pains), and when it does, I give him some ibuprofen, and then I rub his leg until he settles down and falls back asleep. It’s usually about a fifteen minute production from start to finish.
About an hour after Number 6 woke up, Number 3 had a coughing attack from the sickness from hell that won’t f$%@ing go away which led to him puking on himself in his bed.
He was upset and delirious and incoherent.
I got him into the bathroom and forced him into the shower. He put up a good fight. It was reminiscent of the time I attempted to help an incoherent, argumentative, uncooperative and completely shitfaced roommate in college.
Inevitably, Number 3 woke Number 5 up with the puking and coughing, and she was awake for a full hour and a half after I got Number 3’s sheets changed and got him settled down and back to sleep.
Number 5 came downstairs four times in a ninety minute span, from 1:30 to 3 a.m.
It took every ounce of strength to stay (somewhat) under control.
But I had reached my limit with the coughing and the puking.
I was entering week three of this cough from hell, week three of kids coughing to the point of puking, week three of seriously interrupted nights of sleep.
I was starting to go insane.
So although I feel bad for Number 3 (who, by the way, is much better today and *fingers crossed/knock on wood* is hopefully over the hump with the damn cough), I was over it.
All compassion/sympathy/empathy/patience flew out the window on Saturday night. I was not a good mom.
Last night after coaching a swim meet for ten hours and after the night from hell the day before, I was barely able to function.
I was shot. And completely useless.
I passed out on the couch before 9:30 pm.
And for the first time in weeks, I slept all the way through the night until the cat woke me up at 5:30 this morning.
Nobody came downstairs in the middle of the night. There was no coughing, no puking and no crying.There were no growing pains or night terrors.
Nobody needed a drink, nobody couldn’t find their blankie, nobody was too hot, nobody was too cold, nobody wet the bed, and nobody had a bad dream.
It was a miracle.
While I could use about a month straight of those kind of sleeps, it’s amazing how different I felt after just getting one uninterrupted seven hour stretch.
I felt like a different person this morning.
I know that sleep deprivation is not good. This is not news to me.
But for me, it’s more than just not being good.
For me, it’s dangerous. Enough nights of little or no sleep (or just really shitty sleep) inevitably lead to me first getting sick, and then second, slipping into another round of depression.
But also, being tired makes me a raging bitch.
There is a quote from Toni Morrison I love:
When a kid walks in the room — your child or anybody else’s child — does your face light up? That’s what they’re looking for.
My face has not lit up for my kids in a couple weeks now. This is largely due to exhaustion.
I’m not going to beat myself up. It’s been a rough couple weeks with all of us being sick. It happens. You know. That roller coaster thing.
But now that my brain is not quite so foggy, I want to send a reminder out to my fellow exhausted moms.
Sleep must be a priority for you.
Sure, you’re gonna go through periods where you are not going to get the sleep you need.
But you need to pay attention. And when you are nearing (or at) that point where you can’t make your face light up, it’s time to do something.
Call a friend, tell your husband or let your parents know, take a mental health day. Or two…
Do whatever it is you need to do to get some rest.
And if one night of calling in the reinforcements isn’t enough, then do it again.
Once you are in a less fuzzy space mentally, take a look at your life and make some adjustments.
I know it’s hard. I get it. I like to stay up and watch TV after the kids go to bed. I love a good Netflix binge.
But something has to give.
The trade off of staying up late is not worth waking up and hating everyone from the moment you open your eyes until the moment you close them again.
You don’t have to stop watching TV. But stop watching it at a reasonable hour.
Or do what I do — get on the treadmill or elliptical and watch your favorite show on the iPad or your phone. Kill two birds with one stone.
If you can afford it, hire someone to clean your house — you’ll free up a whole bunch of time each week to take a nap if you need it or get other stuff done during that time so you can get to bed a little bit earlier.
Accept the fact that there are only so many hours in a day, and limit your to-do list to three things each day.
If you have a shitty night’s sleep, then adjust your schedule the next day. Instead of taking that hour yoga class, take a 20 minute walk. Or skip the laundry that day.
Whatever you need to do to get enough rest, do it.
Because when you are functioning on fumes, you cannot be that mom/wife/friend/person you want to be.
You can’t be patient and present and mindful.
You are less productive and less efficient.
When your sleep gauge is nearing empty, when it’s touching the red, it is very difficult to make any healthy decisions. It’s tough to get your ass up and moving. It’s tough to make good eating choices. It’s tough to make good parenting choices. It’s tough to make good marital choices.
It’s tough to really do anything well or the way you want to when you aren’t getting enough sleep.
I mean, look at your kids’ behavior/attitude when they are exhausted!
It’s not different when you are a grown up.
You don’t get any medals for being able to “function” on a couple hours of sleep. There’s no badge or award for burning the candle at both ends.
A therapist once told me that sleep is the zamboni for your brain.
YES!!! He’s right.
Because sleep is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.
And you owe it to yourself — and your family — to get plenty of it.