05 September 2008


My go-to response when someone asks me how I am is "tired." It allows them to show some brief, polite sympathy and provides a natural segue into a safe and limitless small talk topic, the kids (I'm not a conversationalist; I rely on tricks to get me through unstructured social situations).

But I find myself annoyed at times that "tired" is so easy to blow off, particularly during the first month or two or three or four or five or however many after a baby. I can't remember where I read it, but I thoroughly enjoyed one mother's fury at seeing her husband sleeping when she'd been up all night, desperate for a newborn to go to sleep. She said she wanted to throw a bucket of ice water on him. Ahem.

I also recently read The Mask of Motherhood by Susan Maushart (book: acknowledged to exist, neither recommended nor unrecommended). The image that stuck with me from that one was her description of a new mother fantasizing about sleep like a starving person dreams of food. Um, yes. When I daydream about my imaginary weekend away that could never happen, the central feature is sleeping, sleeping, sleeping until I wake up of my own accord, and then going back to sleep.

How many nocturnal hours I've spent in the baby's room HATING all sleeping people. Is there anything more offensive than the rising of the sun when you've been up all night? All creation doesn't give a care. Everybody needs bums wiped and clothes and breakfast and ponytails and supervision for another whole day.

I did that thing again the other day where I kept falling asleep in the middle of reading to the babies. I must have somehow slept through a whole paragraph because I know we finished the chapter, but when I read the same chapter again later to a kid who missed it the first time the entire last paragraph was completely unfamiliar. This amazes me.


Reb. Mary said...

Um. Timely. I was recently heard saying something to the effect that I'm just going to just plain disintegrate if BabyBoy doesn't start sleeping better.

Also: It's so very hard to be reasonably polite when childless people complain about not getting enough sleep, having to get up early for work, etc.

And the reading thing: I haven't perfected being able to read in my sleep yet--maybe that skill comes with #4? But when my voice trails off as my head nods, BoyOne helpfully prods me, reminding, "No, your eyes have to stay open when you read!"

Susan said...

Okay, we homeschool, right? I read aloud to the kids a LOT, right? How many things I've read to them in my sleep is utterly astounding. I'm not talking about a paragraph. I'm talking about 5-10 pages of a heavy-print chapter book. I'm talking about 20 minutes worth of reading in my sleep. It gets bad when you're starting to dream and you're substituting a noun in your dream for a noun on the page; that always tips off the kids that you're reading in your sleep again. For the most part, they don't mind if I read in my sleep, but they DO mind when we haul out the book the next day, and it takes me 10-15 minutes of reviewing to figure out what I missed.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I can so relate to the falling asleep while I'm trying to read to my children thing. My children think it's a hoot when I do this, except when it has interfered with making progress in Harry Potter. I find it almost as exasperating as fighting sleep behind the wheel; only, thankfully, not nearly so dangerous or frightening.

Susan, I've done exactly the same thing that you describe, inserting words from my semi-conscious dream-like state. Otherwise, I think I just start pausing for long periods of time in between words, sentences, paragraphs, etc.

However, I can't complain of being awake for most of the night with a nursing infant. Kudos to all you moms -- including my own dear wife -- for the sacrifices you make on behalf of your families.

Rebekah said...

My oldest has informed me gravely on many occasions, "Mom, that didn't make sense." Apparently the periphery of my dreams does not align well with the subjects of our literary pursuits.

RM, oh, do I hear you on childless people claiming to be tired. Especially when they all decide to nap on my couches while I clean up the mess everyone has made and start working on the next meal. ROAR.

Joy said...

Totally empathize. At 32 weeks preggo, I was up about every 90 minutes to pee. At 4 a.m. my 3-year-old had a night terror (which Kevin of course slept through), and I've been awake ever since.

At 6:30 I literally stumbled down the hall to help the 3-year-old wipe, and Kevin says, "Sleep okay?" Freakin' bite me. Men (and childless women) have NO CLUE!