Death by Sleep Deprivation
It didn't take me long to figure it out.
All I want is a stupid nap. Two, maybe three, hours of uninterrupted sleep. No children, no sunlight, no fighting, no phone calls, no requests, no demands, no noise. No nothing.
Just me. My pillow. And the back of my eyelids.
Is that really too much to ask for? Do I really have to wait until April 18th to get what I most want--nay, NEED?! I can't even remember what it feels like to be "well-rested". Isn't sleep one of those unalienable rights or something? Air, water, love, food, SLEEP.
Taking a nap when I'm on single parent duty is just...impossible. But even when Joe's around...it's still somehow impossible. My mom sense never shuts off. I am on high alert all the time. Not by choice. I try to set it on auto-pilot as I prop my children in front of the TV, make my way to my bedroom, shut my eyes, and just chill out. Willing myself to sleep. Just struggling to relax enough to drift into unconsciousness.
Most of the time it doesn't happen. And then on the rare occasion it does...Well, you can imagine what happens. Someone gets hungry or hurt or bored and comes looking for mom. Even if Dad is sitting right there! Or more usually, laying on the couch beside the children, sleeping peacefully, absolutely unaware of the world. Eventually I just give up, get up, and try not to be worked up about it.
Night time isn't any better. In fact, it's worse. We don't have a newborn in the house. Heck! We don't even have a baby anymore! Yet a full night of rest has never seemed further from my clutches.
Every night plays out the same.
Around 11 pm, the six year old begins wandering around the house in a sleep-dazed stupor, not awake enough to make any audible sense, yet not asleep enough to be immobile.
After taking her to the bathroom and leading her back to bed, we make our way to bed. When my husband is around, he can fall asleep in 0.003 seconds flat. You think I exaggerate. No. I've actually timed it before. He can barely get the words "good night" out before the snoring begins.
And oh, good grief, the snoring.
There is this movie from the 1980s called "War of the Roses". I only saw one scene when I was a teenager. A feuding husband and wife are laying in bed. The man is snoring, the woman is glaring at him with murder in her eyes. Suddenly, she crams her fingers up his nostrils in a last ditch attempt to make the snoring stop.
I can't help but think of that scene so vividly every single night as I listen to my husband snoring.
Eventually, I'm able to fall asleep, in spite of the ear- and nerve-shattering reverberation.
And just as soon as I've settled into a good sleep pattern, the two year old stirs. Not enough to be truly awake. Just enough to truly wake me up. I lay in bed and listen as she squirms and moans, settling back into a peaceful slumber.
And again I'm left to myself. And the snoring.
Finally, I prod and will myself back to sleep. And then the six year old wanders in shivering with terror from nighttime anxiety. It is no easy feat to calm her down. It can take hours.
By then, I'm out of patience, if not just out of my mind with exhaustion. And I am not a good mom at this unearthly hour. I say and do stupid things in a last ditch effort to just get some bloody sleep. Last night's gem: "If you don't stop crying right now and go to sleep, I will make you sleep in the basement all by yourself. I'm totally serious!" (And I'm totally not.) Stupid.
This goes on all night. The snoring husband, the restless toddler, the four year old with the occasional bed wetting accident, the anxiety ridden six year old. And just when it all winds down...It is nearly 5 am and the early bird eight year old springs out of bed, ready to take on the day, convinced everyone else is as eager to do the same.
Those teen pregnancy PSA ads should say this: "Sex lasts a moment. Sleep deprivation lasts your whole life."
If only I'd known. If only I had known.