I haven’t slept for three long years.
Okay—obviously I’ve slept, but not without at least one kid-caused interruption. Most nights come with five of those, courtesy of my 15-month-old and newly minted three-year-old.
There are many things I do well in this kid-rearing gig, like reading lots of books, planning outdoor adventures, and disguising garden greens in smoothies and desserts. But the whole sleep thing is my nemesis, my battle, biggest mom fail—whatever you want to call it. I’ve tried so many “proven” sleep-inducing tactics that I’m too tired to try any more (ironic, I know).
I’m not aiming to make a mom martyr out of myself here, and I don’t need anyone to fix this for me. I merely want to survive with my smile still intact. At this juncture, simply accepting—even embracing—everything that goes along with having little humans who, by all indications, appear to have been wired with anti-sleep attributes has given me more peace than all the other sleep remedies combined.
Still, I often ponder how life would be for all tired parents if our little ones adored bedtime and stayed asleep for eight hours every. single. night. Here’s what I think would happen:
We would stop exhausting search engines and prolonging our own exhaustion trying to glean answers from online parenting forums. We’d put an end to our fruitless attempts to seduce the non-existent slumber fairy.
We would wake up feeling energetic and ambitious. Laundry and dishes would get done first thing in the morning; every meal would be wholesome and homemade; and we wouldn’t walk around with bags under our eyes and shirts on inside-out.
Our bodies would resume their former fuel-efficiency. We would experience a healthier, more balanced relationship with coffee, chocolate, and all other forms of caffeinated consumables.
Mom guilt stemming from a zombified state-of-being would disappear and mom brain would substantially improve.
We’d be at a loss trying to figure out what to do with our newfound free time as a result of no longer needing to spend an entire hour at nap time and another at bedtime just trying to get wee ones to sleep.
Mom and Dad would have more opportunities to enjoy bonding together. The average family size would probably double (just think about it).
I absolutely believe that all of the above would ring true. However, it seems that everything in life comes with pros and cons, and sleeplessness is no exception.
Because while parents everywhere arise with hallelujahs on their lips for every successful nap and more-than-six-hour-sleeping-increment, we also bless some things that transpire through the 24/7 on-call-duty delirium.
We would miss the warm, tiny bodies snuggled against ours, the angel-soft breathing, the shushing and rocking and singing by moonlight.
We would long for the kind of high that only a sweetly scented baby and freshly shampooed tendrils under our nose can provide.
We would never again take a good night’s rest for granted, nor question the worthiness of a midday siesta.
As much as we would welcome uninhabited beds back with open arms and relish in our bedroom coup d’état, we would miss finding awkwardly strewn, half-covered toddler limbs tangled in with the sheets.
Although we would understand that we still played a necessary role in the lives of our growing children, we would miss feeling as needed.
I say would, because right now waking up with the sunrise, feeling rejuvenated and ready to rock another day of mothering seems like a very distant, almost inconceivable dream.
They say that this too will pass and before I know it my babies will start sleeping through the night before morphing into Rip Van Winkle wannabes (I mean teenagers), and it’s true, I know. But it’s not my truth—not yet. Until it is, waiting in the darkness beside my children’s beds will afford many more golden opportunities to just breathe, to pray, and to be thankful—thankful for my children who love being awake and alive in this world, and for a God who equips mothers with an unearthly amount of strength, an extra measure of endurance, and a double portion of grace to make it through the night seasons.