Two weeks ago, we got a decent amount of sleep and it wasn’t freeze-your-face-off cold, so we did baths, dresses, scrounged out some hair bows and shoes, and went to church. After the service, I was lamenting with a friend about this current, sleepless phase of life. She looked at me, smiled, and put her hand on my arm. “Someone once told me that whatever phase my kids were in, I should just embrace it.”
My internal hackles shot up. I finished listening to her story, and I think I even smiled Minnesota nice. But all the way out the door I ranted to myself.
Embrace it? Embrace the fact that I haven’t slept more than 3 consecutive hours in over two months? Embrace the bone-tired ache that accompanies me through most of my days? Embrace what must look like some horrible comedy in the middle of the night – the crying baby, the startled eyelids, the tensing of every muscle, the parade of untangling myself from the covers, struggling with my bathrobe, and stumbling in to whoever is crying before the rest of the house wakes up too?
On average, the girls are still waking up at 12 and 2. And sometimes at 3. I don’t really know what to do at this point. I’m not feeding them in the night anymore, (both girls hit the 65th percentile for weight and 70th for height at their 6 month appointment – clearly they aren’t starving) so it’s just a matter of calming them down and getting them back to bed.
Ellis is also joining the middle of the night fun. The other night, Jason heard noises across the hall around 3:40 am. He went to her room only to find every light on, and Ellis buck naked, jumping up and down on her bare mattress. Her reason? She was just happy, daddy.
Apparently everyone just needs a little calming down lately. The days may be getting longer, but the darkness still slides too quickly into the afternoon. I’m never ready to start the evening’s tearful tango sessions all over again.
Which is exactly what I was doing, two Sundays ago, somewhere in the middle of the sleeping hours.
My bare feet were cold. My ponytail was somewhere off the left side of my head circa 1986, and in my haste to get to the baby, I had put my bathrobe on inside out and couldn’t tie it. I had some sort of back and forth sway motion going, and Lucy was fighting going back to sleep, her hot little fists alternately waving and gouging into her eyes.
I thought to myself, “Ha. Yes. Embrace it Rachel, just emBRACE the moment.”
And then I stopped. I want to say I had some sort of beautiful, shining epiphany. You know. The moon, the comforting sounds of the house, that kind of thing. But I didn’t. Nothing happened. I just realized, in the stupor of being half asleep and half awake, that I was probably overreacting.
That in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t so bad.
So much of how I see things depends on my perspective. And when I’m half awake most days and nights, my perspective is pretty puffy-eyed and narrow.
Sure, not sleeping sucks. Literally. It sucks every last bit of energy of my living soul and by 4:30 pm every day, I’m on zombie autopilot. But still. I’m up because I have babies. Healthy (albeit not sleeping) babies.
Not so bad.
When things are difficult, I think I have a tendency to mentally hang on the hardship of it all. It’s as though quantifying the difficulty gives me a pass, for the time being, to do X. Or not do X. Anything, really. I don’t feel like I have to hold myself as accountable when circumstances are not in my favor.
But that’s not what good character is, or does.
So every time I leave the babies’ room at night, I pray “please let them sleep”. And then I add “and when they don’t, give me strength.” Just because I didn’t rest does not mean tomorrow won’t lighten the horizon. Ellis will need breakfast, the babies will wake with their own set of demands, and life will explode into chaos in a very short time span if I can’t gather myself up and go on.
Excuses be danged.
Meanwhile, “This week has been a disaster, Faye.” (Yes, we recently watched What About Bob?)
It disarmed me starting off – seven hours of sleep in a row on Sunday night. Glorious. But Monday and Tuesday passed in blurs of (what I’m guessing is teething) rage, which totally cancelled out any victory in the seven consecutive hours. Maybe I’m just spoiled – the girls are normally very mild and easy during the day. This week, not so.
I’m talking SCREAMS. And in case you weren’t aware, apparently my girls all have the lungs to be opera stars. These are the red-faced, squint-eyed, inhale with all your power and blast out the most horrible manner of noise possible for a human being to make type screams. The don’t put me down screams. Don’t feed me screams. Don’t stop feeding me screams. Don’t change my diaper screams.
It’s daunting at best, demoralizing at worst.
Whatever that was about, we all caught a break and had a better day today. And tonight, everyone was sleeping by 8:30 pm. Jason included. (The poor guy can’t get enough uninterrupted sleep to combat a month-long battle of being sick.)
I’m not going to lie. I simply can’t embrace this week. That feels a little like opening my arms to a hungry, stink-eyed grizzly. But I will keep trying to remind myself that with a little perspective comes the reminder that it’s also not that bad.
And sometimes, that’s all any of us can hope for.