As I lie in bed awake at 2.30 in the morning with my child half-asleep (but not quite there) next to me, I can’t help but wonder what it must be like to have a child that sleeps. To get a full night’s sleep in one chunk. To maybe—dare I think it—have an entire evening to yourself?
It’s been just over three-and-a-half years now.
Three-and-a-half years of interrupted evenings. Of nights with plenty of wake-ups. Some longer (like tonight, when she did not fully fall back asleep until three hours later, being awake from midnight to around 3 am), some shorter where she will fall back asleep relatively quickly. I prefer the latter but even those make sleeping harder for me. I don’t fall asleep as quickly and easily as she (sometimes) does. Or my partner, who is capable of falling asleep in seconds. Sometimes mid-conversation. (And I swear, I’m not that boring!)
The lack of sleep makes the daytime difficult as well. I already suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and the bad sleep isn’t helping. Daily chores that should be easily doable suddenly seem insurmountable. Leaving the house to do grocery shopping? Might as well ask me to go hiking in the wilderness. That laundry mountain could just as well be Kilimanjaro.
It makes me a bad mother. I lack the energy to do all of the things I’d like to do with the tiny tyrant. Mum guilt hits me bad. But even the weight of the massive guilt can’t always force me out the door. Some days we just have to stay home, and it breaks my heart when she asks me if we can go to a playground and I just can’t bring myself to do it. We don’t have one in easy walking distance. It always requires a car trip. Fortunately, she enjoys quite a few things to do at home as well. She loves setting up little homes for her Sylvanian families and Barbies. I find them everywhere. (And if I try to tidy them up I get yelled at.)
Evenings after bedtime is meant to be a time to relax. And I’d like to. I try to do my writing in the evenings, as well as anything else I can’t really do during the days while the tiny tyrant is around. But I do it all with an eye and ear towards the bedroom, waiting for that dreaded wake-up. Rarely, there’s none. More commonly there’s between 1-4 before I go to bed.
I don’t know why she won’t sleep. Maybe it just doesn’t agree with her. Whether she’s had a busy day and is tired appears to have little to no impact. (Putting this out there since I know a lot of people like to tell me a tired child will sleep. Well, not this one.) All I know is that I’m desperate for some sleep myself. On a regular basis. And some evenings when I can relax. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently, it is.
And so I will continue to lie here in the middle of the night, with my child who won’t sleep. I will dream of days to come when she might—hopefully—sleep and all the things I might finally have the time and energy to do.
I will continue to wonder what is it like to have a child that sleeps.