The popular book What to Expect when You're Expecting has been on my top five list of books never to read when you are expecting since the day I read it cover to cover. After spending the rest of my pregnancy lying awake at night trying to imagine how I would modify all the baby clothes we had to fit a hermaphrodite, I started not only NOT recommending it, but being a lobbyist for the burning of this paranoia-inducing handbook. Thus, I did not read it's sequel, What to Expect the First Year.
Maybe if I had, I might have known what to do with two children under the age of two who both decided to boycott sleep at the same time. In other words, maybe somewhere in that book might have been the answer to the question in the back of my mind the last month.. "What the hell was I thinking?"
I have not been posting my Favorite Things because, to be perfectly frank, I have been having a hard time coming up with one or two things total, let alone a list a week. I don't know if what I am experiencing is depression or just sleep-deprived delirium but my days have definitely been longer then 24 hours recently. The time between when the kids "wake up" (a misleading term which implies there was a period when they were "asleep") and when I put Pursy down for a nap at 1pm lasts a lifetime. And then when she wakes up from her nap and before she goes to bed is another lifetime. Two lifetimes a day.
There are beautiful bits of rest in between. Sometimes I can drink enough coffee to feel awake and our days are full of park visits, coloring, block tower building and backyard blanket-lying hours. Sometimes Knox sleeps longer then an hour at a time and sometimes Pursy will be taken back to her own bed at 2am without screaming and waking up Knox- thus spiraling Grant and I into an entire quarter of man to man defense in which there is no shoulder to cry on because a child is already using it. It is in these moments when I am staring in the face of a child I would give my life for but who has stolen sleep and all it's benefits from me, I am grateful for the cloak of darkness and nighttime to hide my thoughts.
Mothers are not supposed to wish- even for a moment- that they were not.
Especially when I have been given two gorgeous, healthy babes who light up my life in ridiculous ways. There are parents of babes with illnesses who have walked through hell and back. And I am complaining about lost sleep? Yes,I am. Because every time I hear myself yell a little too loud or discipline Pursy a little too quickly I realize what exhaustion does to a Mama- and I feel guilt overwhelm me. Oh yes, on top of everything else there is the guilt. Not being enough, not doing enough, not encouraging or stimulating or teaching enough.
So I have decided to release myself from guilt about the whole sleep thing. Grant and I have made a decision that we never thought we would make, but in the two hours since I presented the idea to him on the phone and he agreed, I have felt hope. Hope for sleep tonite. Hope for no harsh words over the heads of crying babes between two parents who love each other so much. Hope for the patience and wisdom I pray for every night but don't think about during the crazy day.
So to myself and all the other parents out there who are struggling between the love they feel and the exhaustion, guilt and frustration that gets in the way, I say: Do what works for you and your babe. Ignore what you Expected and do what you Know. Love your babes how they need to be loved- and let's go to sleep.