“So when you get poked in the ribs at 3 a.m., or your little jack-in-the-box pops out of bed for the fifteenth time asking how long ’til his next birthday, or you painstakingly choose and purchase the perfect toddler bed but your child refuses to even sit on it, try to see the joke. When your child is finally sound asleep, stand over the bed and drink in the sweetness of your precious little person. Finally, let love guide you as you solve all your sleep problems, all in good time.”
Elizabeth Pantley in The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers
I’m obsessed with sleep right now, probably because I’m getting very little of it. The baby’s fussy period is from about 9 p.m. to midnight and just recently I’ve faced a few nights where nothing – not nursing, not endless walking and sweet lullabies, and not even desperate prayers – can settle the poor thing (we think reflux may to be blame since she sounds a lot like Darth Vader or a snorting Wilbur – take your pick – as soon as she’s on her back).
To make matters worse, Dave’s work schedule has been heinous, so I’ve felt a lot like a single mom (God bless single parents!). I’ll find myself gently bouncing the baby with silent tears trailing down my face, wondering how I’ll possibly be able to take care of three children operating on little to no sleep. But somehow I do it. Not always all that well, but we get by one way or the other.
I’m not sharing this to complain. It’s just that I recently had a friend encourage me to be honest about my mothering journey. Lately some of my blog posts have been sickeningly sweet (Forever Baby comes immediately to mind. Ugh – sorry to make you, dear reader, endure the conclusion to that post, which totally comes off like a bad Hallmark card, although the sentiments were true). The oozing sentimentality has something to do with the fact that I’m still basking in all those lovely postpartum hormones and really am getting all sappy about my babies growing up and motherhood.
But there’s another reason I’ve been so lovey-dovey: I’m trying to convince myself I’m Super Mom and that adding a newborn to a family when you already have two little kids is no big deal. But it’s time for the cold, hard facts: It is a big deal. Having a baby is always an adjustment no matter how “experienced” you are as a mom. And there’s one killer kind of kryptonite that will knock the wind out of any Super Mom and that’s chronic sleep deprivation.
I saw my own mom this past weekend and as always, she encouraged me. She reminded me that being a mom is the hardest job in the world but that I am – despite how I feel at this moment with my bleary eyes, lead-like limbs, and limited supply of patience and rapidly decreasing brain power (probably another reason for the lousy, overly sentimental writing) – rising up to the challenge.
And, of course, just as Elizabeth Pantley does in the above quote, she reminded me to keep perspective. It’s hard – really hard – to skimp on sleep night after night. But I will get sleep again, and my kids won’t always need me to nurse them or tuck them in or read another story or kiss away their tears after a nightmare. (Here I go again, getting all sappy on you. Tsk, tsk, tsk.) This sleepless phase is just one small, albeit exhausting, part of my mothering life. And I’ll be in REM long enough to dream again “all in good time.”