October 10, 2016

Sleep, Glorious Sleep: Week Eight

In 1995, I gave up on the idea that I would ever have a decent night's sleep again. From pregnancy-bladder wake-up calls, to a newborn needing to nurse, to a toddler having a nightmare, the pattern for sleeplessness was set early in my motherhood career.

After the children were sleeping through the night, I began to value my late nights as "me time". Previously, I had never been a night owl yet I found myself staying up until midnight or even later, just so I could have time when someone wasn't asking me to do something for them. I would call other late night friends or chat on the computer or even just watch videos, just to carve out solo time.

I became friends with another neighborhood mom and the minute our kids were in bed, we would alternate houses and meet for a glass of wine, toasting another successful day of mothering. It was our way of pretending we could still go out like we did before we were mothers. We found ourselves substituting wine for sleep, which isn't exactly the healthiest decision.

The sleep deprivation did not end when my children reached high school. In fact, their own late night activities, be it school or social related, kept me up, waiting to make sure they arrived home safely -- only to turn around and wake up first thing in the morning to do it all over again.


getting eight hours sleep
For 21 years, sleep had become so rare to me that a good night's sleep was cause for jubilant celebration. The first time it happened in the past eight weeks, that was exactly my reaction, jubilation. I had come to expect a poor night's sleep as the norm. The gradual acceptance that I did not have to spring out of bed to get the day going, nor did I have to stay up half the night to make sure I had some solo time has been a delightful side effect of the empty nest.

After our trip last week, I came home not only jet-lagged, but also with a terrible cold and fever. So I babied myself. I slept and napped, I went to bed early, and stayed in bed late. I didn't have to soldier through being sick as I had in the past. Also, did you ever notice that your colds would linger for weeks upon weeks? This time, I succumbed to feeling sick and have really rested.

It feels so luxurious to give myself time to feel better, something I had not allowed myself to do in over two decades. Oh how mothers are masters of dispensing advice we don't follow! I always made my children rest when they were sick, but never did the same for myself. I used to let my kids sleep in late knowing how critical sleep was, but somehow thought myself immune from that need.

The lesson for week eight has been a valuable one. I've been getting plenty of Vitamin B-E-D. I still have someone to mother and that is myself.


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