10 Nov how to survive parenthood
2:30 AM: B crashes into my room, shoving the door so hard it bounces off the doorstop. She is crying, panicked. I am instantly awake. Heart pounding. Adrenaline coursing. What’s wrong? Did you have an accident? “No, Mommy. My socks fell off. And I can’t find them ANYWHERE.”
I find the socks. Shimmy them back onto her feet. Tuck her in. She rolls over and falls right asleep.
My mind is racing. It takes me another 90 minutes to settle back down and drift off. Two hours later, Miles is up for the day.
Later, in the gym locker room, a mom I don’t know complains about her 6-year-old, who still climbs into bed with her each night. Other moms drift in and out of the conversation, moaning and offering up their tales of sleep-deprivation woe. I’m tempted to tell the sock story, but I bite my tongue. Some moms believe that their parenting angst is more special than anyone else’s. In the midst of seeking community, they are trying to one-up each other. But really, it’s a common thread that unites ALL PARENTS EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD: sleep deprivation. If you’re a parent, you’re tired.
I will yawn, and I will occasionally complain and assert that my flavor of sleep loss is unique and more challenging than yours. And I will assert to my husband that he has it good, because he gets to retreat to an adult-only office every day for 9 hours. A break from the kids! What luxury! While I work from home and juggle deadlines and nap times and house cleaning and bill paying and cooking.
But the truth, dear readers: I have it damn good. Really….what’s so awful about your 4-year-old needing you to put her socks on at 2:30 in the morning? Is it really that painful to be summoned to your little boy’s crib at 6:15, his arms outstretched, his fair hair matted on one side, his sweet voice chanting “Mama, out. Mama, I hungee. Mama, snuggle”?
I sip my coffee and stare at them, in awe of the relatively narrow spectrum of their concerns: milk. matchbox cars. socks. constructing elaborate imaginary worlds. negotiating who gets the yellow crayon first.
They don’t worry for a second whether their needs will be met around the clock. It’s a given.
This is the salty sweetness of parenting. They exhaust me. I love that my children exhaust me.
ALSO… I recognize when that exhaustion is nearing its crest and I need to take action before I crash and burn. Because no one wants a martyr for a mama.
I am approaching that crest. And serendipitously, this weekend, I am retreating to the hilltops with some dear women. There will be wine. A spa. Hiking in crisp, fall air. There will be no children. But, there will be blessed, blessed sleep.