The Night Shift

I’m going to talk about sleep now.

And admittedly this has been hard to conceptualize because at the end of the day I’m writing about something I’d rather be doing. Sleep can be a PRETTY boring topic. Until it isn’t. And since we had children, it has become one of the three go to topics of our daily conversations, next to poop and pee.

My husband and I used to sleep, of course. We used to be SO good at it, too.

We used to call our sleepy weekend days the “Opium Den!” Because dragging ourselves out of a lazy, Sunday slumber was so fucking difficult and besides why??? If we could have had food delivered directly into the bedroom, we would have.

We were THAT good at sleeping.

We don’t sleep anymore. At least not like we used to. Of course with two children under three, why would we expect to?

Don’t get me wrong I’m more grateful and in love with these two little sleep suckers than I can ever express but I could do without them waking me up so fucking early nearly every morning and sometimes three times at night. Sure many couples with young children complain about this shit. I know I’m not alone. And it isn’t like it’s every fucking night, but it’s most fucking nights. And that’s plenty fucking nights too many in my opinion.

When we had just one we slept more than we do now, but still, less than we did when we had none. And I think we were lulled into thinking we’d sleep well again pretty quickly after two was born because he started out so strong in the sleep department! It just turns out he’s a sleep tease because every time I think we’ve got him figured out he basically cry/whines to us in the middle of the night something that should be translated into, “NOT YET, SUCKAS!”  

The biggest deterrent to our sleeping a full night uninterrupted is the constant fluctuation of someone somehow needing something different each night.  And because I’m the lucky one of us who somehow handles sleep deprivation slightly better than my husband, I also become the lucky winner of the “who gets up with them tonight” question more often than not. And lately it seems like we’re always waking up and crawling out of bed for so many different reasons, it's hard to keep track. So different from the “Opium Den” of our former free-of-children days. 

I'm going to stop bitching now and Ross Gellar a couch on a staircase (PIVOT!) because…

All of these recent wake ups in the dark, silent night where it’s just me and a small person gets me thinking. Granted I’m tired as fuck. My body aches from sprinting from a dead sleep to whichever child’s room require attending. But here’s what I secretly, begrudgingly love about the night shift:

The singular focused attention I can give to them.

More specifically, if it’s the toddler: I love how he shifts to get the perfect position on my lap where he can also rest his head on my chest, and where I can perfectly steal kisses from the top of his head. He’s definitely a momma’s boy, but he’s also always on the go go go these days. So to get him so still, so quiet is a luxury. He usually requests, “Two more minutes, Mommy,” which I almost always indulge and probably stretch to more like five minutes, because what’s “two more minutes” of this that is fleeting and temporary as compared to “two” fewer minutes of my sleep? 

If it’s the baby, I love the uninterrupted snuggles while rocking him back to sleep. It’s also one of the only times in a 24 hour day where it is just us chickens. And if I pretend just right, it feels like he’s my only baby. The way it felt with my first born at all times of the day. I’m not distracted by another more pressing need. He gets all of me. And I get to soak in all of him.  

And because I don’t know if we’re done having children, I tend to ask him in the dark silence, “Are you my last baby?” to which he responds with more dark silence. So I pretend that he is, and try very hard to imprint this feeling of the weight of him on me as I rock him back to sleep. Just in case.  

I know these kinds of nights are temporary. At least this is what friends with older kids promise. They’re also the ones reminding me, somewhat relentlessly to “enjoy it.” So I try to.  

I certainly don’t regret losing sleep over the joyful chaos of these two perfect humans joining our family. It just hurts. It’s just painful. But parenthood is full of different types of pain, right? So I figure this must be par for the course, right? And I have to find some way to survive it, or else we’ll all go insane…right?

So here’s my other confession: Sometimes, when I’ve finally been able to crawl back into bed, if the light is just right, I’ll pretend it’s the middle of the day and I’m simply joining my husband for a little siesta.

I’ll even whisper to him, with all the nostalgia I can muster, “Opium Den!”

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