From the moment I brought my first two children home from the hospital, barely 12 months shy of one another… nobody slept. My Irish twins were jacked-up baby Energizer Bunnies in stereo.
*Irish twins- when the same woman produces multiple offspring in a 12 month period through separate pregnancies. This probably causes many women to take up recreational drinking later in life, so I’m pretty sure that’s where the Irish part comes from.
I gave birth to up-all-night babies who quickly grew into up-all-night toddlers who were about as difficult to settle in bed as a pair of adolescent spider monkey’s on crack. I kid you not, my bald tail-less monkey’s would not. stay. in. bed. And yes, I tried everything from warm soothing baths, calming music, and dreadfully mundane bedtime stories to… Benadryl.
Yes, I did.
Don’t go all judgy June Cleaver on me. I was exhaustipated with a capital E. Also, in my defense, as a veteran RN I’d carried out many physicians orders administering this very same medication to adult patients FOR SLEEP. I happened to be working in pediatrics at the time, so it was easy to figure out the safe dosage. Unfortunately, medications can have the opposite effect on some people. Particularly, small noisy humans between 2 – 3 foot tall, who are manipulative sticky little parasites whose sole mission in life is to siphon adult energy. As Murphy’s Law would predict, Benadryl turned out to be the equivalent of a double shot of expresso laced with pixie stick powder.
As a result, I quickly came to terms with the reality that there was no magic bullet – NOTHING could guarantee to convert my hyperactive children into sleepy mode at sundown. Colassal bummer. In addition to holding the ever-taxing mom title, I had a full time job. I was so tired it hurt. More often than not, I’d simply give in to exhaustion and assume the vertical-cozy-position next to my bouncing balls of energy, which meant I was out for the entire night… in a bed intended for baby bear.
This moms episode of Sleepless in New York actually took place 18 years ago, before the explosion of social networking and subsequent 24/7 online moral support for Mommy’s-at-the-end-of-their-ropes. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I survived without the almighty Internet life line.
I just do not know.
I recently finished reading the new mom anthology, Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness, which is a funny and heartwarming collection of tales written by kindred sleep deprived mom goddesses. Rest assured, fellow mombies, the sleep-deprived state you’re experiencing is indeed a widespread and universal phenomenon that’s also temporary.
You’ve just got to love nocturnal children.
For me, it quickly became a nightly contest to see who would fall asleep first. Predictably, I was hardly ever victorious. To this day, the same image pops into my consciousness whenever bedtime shenanigans are mentioned. The infamous night I frantically woke to discover my two year old son was MIA, which meant he had escaped from his room and was most likely on a mischievous adventure. At the sight of his empty bed, I instinctually rushed into my daughters room, where thankfully, I discovered them both. She was nuzzled under the bed covers fast asleep and my Energizer Bunny Boy was perched on top of her sleeping figure with the entire contents of the toy box spilled onto her bed. Bizarre, but funny as Hell. He had the Fisher Price farm set up next to her head and was gleefully manipulating the animal figures up and down her arms, making barnyard noises. Moooooooo!!! Cock-a-doodle-doo!!! Apparently, he needed someone to play with and it didn’t matter to him if his playmate was interactive
For the official record, it’s not easy to portray a convincing bad-ass disciplinarian when you’re gasping and turning colors trying to stifle an impending laugh-out-loud-and-slap-your-thigh. Some things are just plain entertaining, especially when you’re exhausted.
The strategy I most often resorted to when attempting to wind down my hyperactive monkey-boy was to force him to lay on the couch and watch National Geographic, while I took care of whatever needed to be urgently attended to – like washing the families underwear, tossing the after-dinner wreckage into the dumpster or mopping up the lake left on the bathroom floor after evening baths. The drone hum of the NG narrators voice was enough to put a herd of elephants to sleep, although predictably, it hardly had any effect on my high strung monkey child who, incidentally, had been diagnosed with off-the-charts ADHD by the tender age of five. I can’t confirm that off-the-charts ADHD is an official diagnosis in the DSM, but I do hereby swear it came out of the psychiatrists mouth.
This particular memory came bouncing back into my consciousness like a baby grenade the moment I sunk my teeth into Motherhood May cause Drowsiness and began to read. I suspect it’s also very likely that I have a touch (or full blown) case of PTSD.
And on the glass-half-full-of-vodka kind of note – the ultimate pay-off for the struggle is that my eldest offspring are now 20 and 21 years old, meaning it’s almost their turn to join the up-all-night watch crew also known as team zombie… and I can hardly wait until they have kids.
Be sure to check out this heartfelt, painstaking and funny new mom anthology! It’s recommended reading for the Hot Mess Mom Club. Welcome!