My first kid was an excellent sleeper. He was sleeping through the night at three months. He was napping three times a day until I made him stop (because all those naps were bor-ing!) and then he went down to napping for three hours, twice daily, until he started preschool. I was spoiled. And a total douchebag.
I was the jerk writing status updates about how my twelve-week-old son had slept thirteen hours straight but how hard it had been, because I kept worrying that he was dead when he didn’t make a peep all night. And if you were to ask me how I got my son to be such a good sleeper? I would tell you, unironically, that ‘the Baby Whisperer changed my life’ and that you had to read her book. (The correct response? ‘I had nothing to do with it, it was just luck.’)
So when I got a second kid who didn’t sleep, I deserved it.
And when I got a third kid who didn’t sleep, thus leaving me with two kids who didn’t sleep and a husband who worked out of town, I deserved that too.
Because I really had been such a smug jerk.
But now, more than five years after the birth of my second—who now finally sleeps through the night, (wait! Was that too braggy?)—my third is still up every two hours. And I feel like I have paid my dues.
I am just so tired.
I wake up tired. I put the kids to bed tired, and then right before what should be my own bedtime, I get a second wind. A sudden burst of energy as I make school lunches or bake muffins and then revel in my alone time, eating chocolate without any demands to share and responding to email without any requests to send a note to Daddy or Peppa Pig.
And then it’s 12:15 or 12:30 and I am summoned upstairs by my daughter’s first (or second) wake-up of the night and I realize that she will be up for the day in 6 hours (or less) and up for a party in two hours (or less). If I get six hours of interrupted sleep on a given night, it’s a victory. Usually I am not victorious.
When I wake up in the morning, it’s always with guilt and regret (I should have gone to bed earlier! This is my fault!) and a headache. So basically I have managed to invent the fun-free hangover (patent pending). The dark circles under my eyes are so prominent that I strongly suspect I will need to be put into a medically induced coma to get rid of them (but I would do it in a tropical cabana, so I could come back with a tan. But not a deep tan—everyone knows that’s dangerous).
Because of how much I enjoy my kids, I always have enough energy to take them places and do fun stuff, but my body saves energy by limiting how well my brain works. In other words, I have the IQ of a root vegetable. And not like a carrot (those guys can be pretty clever) but a real dummy, like a winter squash or a gourd.
Thankfully, I am not embarrassing myself at work every day as I have been home with the kids since the birth of my first. My husband works in another city most weekdays and it makes more sense for our family for me to stay home. Also, even if I wanted to be working right now, I doubt I could even find my office let alone work in my old job as a lawyer, without being disbarred or fired. Or both.
In truth, I love staying home with my kids and, because they are now my intellectual superiors, I am starting to learn amazing things from them, like addition and the alphabet. My son has even promised that he is going to teach me how to use the TV remote one day soon.
Maybe one day I will get to bed at a reasonable hour and my youngest will start sleeping for more than two hours in a row. And then I will really be able to conquer the world by doing the really hard stuff, like replacing all the batteries in plastic toys and figuring out how to use my voicemail (sorry if you are waiting for a call back). Until then, I will just have to accept the fact that I am a little dumber every day.