Have you ever been exhausted? I mean totally and completely exhausted! I mean so exhausted that a coma would be nice right about now, exhausted! For months maybe years at a time. Oh that is called motherhood. If you have this you have arrived to being a mother. YOU will get your crown in the mail! No, I promise it’s coming, the mail room is a little backed up at the moment, but it is coming.
This is going to be a compilation of stories about my exhaustion that was compounded through each child that I had. My children are spaced apart pretty well. My oldest daughter and my son are two and a half years apart. My son and my youngest daughter are just shy of four years apart. So when you add two and a half years to almost four years and then carry the (kids don’t sleep through the night until they are about ten) we are talking 20 years of not sleeping through the night.
DISCLAIMER: To all of you new moms out there. This is a lie kids sleep through the night at around six to ten months.
addendum to the disclaimer: other moms stop laughing we don’t want to scare them. I’m just trying to give them some hope.
The first story of my sleep deprivation as a mom:
When my oldest was an infant I had this recurring dream that I would forget my baby somewhere. So I had this fear when I was awake too, obviously. I had a particularly rough night with her and I took her to the doctor’s office at “the walk in” at eight in the morning. I was like “My daughter screamed all night. I think she has something wrong with her.”
They collected my co-pay and told me that she was fine. Maybe give her some cereal before she goes to bed to help her make it through the night. I am like cool holistic healing at its finest right there. I stop at the grocery store and bought the cereal. I had my baby in the baby seat that they provide for your baby on the top of the grocery cart. (I think they stopped doing this for what I am about to tell you) I get the groceries all in the car and I climb in and I drive away. As I am driving I see the baby’s car seat but it’s facing backward, because that’s what they told me to do. I call the child’s name (but this was dumb because she doesn’t talk yet.) (My daughter began speaking at four months and spoke complete sentences by the time she was nine months old also because of what I am about to tell you, probably). I do not hear any noises coming from the carseat. My mind is tired and creative and I can see my child in the cart return all strapped into that stupid cart baby seat and I am all like…..’Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. Who let me raise a fucking child? ‘ It’s their fault really. I quickly speed back to the grocery store and I see the carts and no baby. I even scream “MY BABY!”
This curdling scream woke the child sleeping in the back of my car who was safely buckled in her beautiful loving car seat The Entire Time. The poor child didn’t answer because she too was exhausted and finally could get some well deserved rest until her lunatic mother screamed out in pure panic and horror and woke the poor child up. She had been with me the whole time.
I now had to drive all the way home with my screaming baby because I didn’t leave her there after all I just imagined that I did. This is how it begins. My daughter, shortly after this incident started to say her first word “DADA!” Which probably translated to “Oh dear father, please don’t leave with this neurotic woman, I fear for my safety with her!”
The next story comes from when my son was born. I now have two children who take turns being awake so that I get no sleep. My husband is all pissy because he doesn’t want to go to bed at seven-thirty until he gets there and he is the first one to go to sleep.
caution: this story is filled with resentment towards my husband because he was a perfectly well rested human being and also the children didn’t want him. they only wanted MOMMY!
My son was a newborn and as a newborn he felt it was his job to stay with me at all times day and night and everything in between. My oldest is a two and a half-year old who says, “whoa buddy get to the back of the line, because up until now that has been my job.” So she thinks that she is CEO of my sleep deprivation and he is the intern. He is an exceptionally ambitious intern and younger, so he can run circles around her. I am dying because at some point I am just going to collapse out of sheer need for sleep.
This particular night my son is screaming and I look at my husband and say “Either grow some tits and feed this one…..OR take that one and put her to bed.” Because I want to give him a choice its his life after all!!!!!
He gives me this hurt wounded animal look and takes the oldest one to put her to bed. I start nursing the vampire when I hear the blood curdling screams from my daughter. I want to ignore them but she is also calling my name… “I don’t want you. I want mommy! Get out of here. You don’t do it right. Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
Oh for the love of all things holy, please just make this stop! It doesn’t stop until I get up and walk in her room. My husband is barricading the door so that the little hostage can’t get out and I am like “Well at least he tried. He’s completely incompetent but he did it wrong too. What was my point? He’s the worst, that was my point! The actual worst!”
“Did you read to her?” I ask
“You didn’t ask me to read to her.” he explains
“Can you read to her?” I ask (with that ‘you stupid stupid little man’ voice. you know the one) and I walk away mumbling words like moron and useless. because I’m a team player but he’s doing it wrong!!!!!!!!!
I hear him shout reading to her over her screaming at him. So now it must be done. We have to switch children which is going to be bad because believe it or not she is the one that likes him. The boy child has not picked up on the fact that he has left the womb. So any time someone else, besides me, holds him he is like “Stranger danger. Stranger danger.” complete with rape whistle sounding noise.
I go in and hand him, the now sleeping, infant to simply rock until I can get this one to sleep. I walk into her room and she smiles because she is the CEO and she knows how this business is run. I am reading her favorite story. Her father was reading her something from his engineering magazine. I get her all tucked in when I hear the infant wind up….its the, “before” of a pure unadulterated tantrum, sound. I look at this one all smiles and happy because mommy is about to sing to her when her father broke her brother. Why does my husband hate me?
My husband opens the door a crack and asks “Can you take him please? I can’t hear the tv.”
(i divorced him in my head at that very moment. i divorced him and he is wearing a barrel that poor people in cartoons wear.)
I get the baby latched on and I sing the wheels on the bus and everyone is quiet and sleeping except me. I quietly escape (oh yeah escape rooms are less appealing to mothers because every fucking night is an escape room) and I get the baby in his crib. I go to bed and my husband comes in with his judgment and asks “Are you really going to bed at seven-thirty?”
I didn’t answer him because I was trying to decide if divorce was the worst thing to do to him. There is always death but then he would be getting more sleep than me and that is not what I want to grant him with.
It’s the middle of the night and because I went to bed at seven-thirty that means its ten o’clock at night and the baby is screaming for a meal. I, like the sacrificial lamb, let him blood let me and my oldest comes out of her bedroom looking well rested. She climbs up on the couch next to me all smiles and asks “Can we watch the lion king?”
“Yes we can!” is my answer. Like a true child of technology she goes over to the tv and puts the tape into the VCR (you’re old) and the credits are rolling. Shit we need to rewind. She pushes all of the buttons because she’s two and half and wants to watch the Lion king. I go over balancing the newborn using my nipple, breast and knees while I try to find the rewind button without turning the lights on (because that would mean I have given up) and hold the toddler away from the tv because “she can do it!” I know this because she is telling me very loudly.
I get the movie going and the baby nursing and I see my husband sleeping peacefully in bed. I hate him. I hate him and his well rested face. I look like the walking dead and he gets to sleep. The baby has eaten and the toddler is watching her movie and I go in and I kick the side of the bed and I say “Tag you’re it!” I hand him the milk drunk baby and I crawl over his stupid body and I dig into the comforter to get some sleep.
“What do you want me to do with him?” my husband asks
“I don’t care. I am tired.” I lie in bed trying to sleep but now it sounds like they are having a good time without me. I try to not be jealous I just need sleep.
The next morning I wake up to fingers trying to wrench my eyelids open “Mommy are you awake?”
I woke up and I love my family again. I see my husband and he is a beautiful being with his blonde hair and blue eyes. I have been transformed from that hideous beast I was last night into the family loving Goddess that I want to be, all I needed was some real sleep.
This next story is from when my youngest was born. My husband’s job required him to travel which meant I am a single mom with the benefit of having my bills paid. Not a bad job really, but I have to still take care of three kids by myself.
My mom calls me and asks if she could treat the kids and me to “The Tigger Movie” and also to watch my youngest child. I was like “YES and Heck yes!”
I get the baby over to my mom’s house. She coos and fawns over her littlest grandchild at the time and I leave complete with a trail of rubber on the road. I get the tickets and we get into our seats. My oldest is six and my son is four and Pooh Bear is their favorite. They are so excited and I would be excited but I am basically a corps with milk leaking from my breasts. The lights get dim and I see the characters all on the screen talking about family. I am thinking what a heartwarming tale…………………….
“Mom! Mom!” little hands slapping my cheek
“Is she dead?”
“Mom! The movie is done!”
I open my eyes and there are my two poor frightened children staring rather close to my face at me. “Oh GOD! Someone could have kidnapped my babies!” Was my thoughts. I felt like I was the worst parent in the world. I gather my shit and I get the popcorn out of my shirt and I hurriedly leave the theater.
Now if you ever want to try to tell a lie when your children are small, just don’t, because they are truth-telling machines. We walk into my mother’s house and the first fucking words out of my son’s mouth are “Mom fell asleep at the movies and we had to slap her awake. I hit her as hard as I could. We thought she was dead!”
Thanks son.! Just thanks! I stand there waiting for my mother to tell me how I was failing miserably at this mom thing. She doesn’t! Instead she just laughs and tells me about her embarrassing tired mom story.
I am still thankful that my children were safe. I am still thankful that my mother was understanding. I am forever thankful that I could eventually buy “The Tigger Movie” on VHS and watch it with my children for real this time. In fact the song at the end is going to be the song that my son and I dance to at his wedding one day, unless he changed his mind. He was only four years old when he told me that. I hope he didn’t change his mind. It’s a lovely sappy song that makes me cry and think of my babies when they were small and almost kidnapped.
Moral of my story: Being a mother with young ones who don’t sleep is exhausting. Be patient with yourself and know your limits. Ask for help. We aren’t superheroes and by trying to be some super being we actually become some hideous beast in the process. If this story put you to sleep, you are welcome! That’s what friends are for. Now go get some rest, you deserve it! If you are a new mom, it’s not that bad. But if it gets that bad ask for help. Older moms if a young mom calls you and asks for help give it to her. Let’s break this judgement cycle. We need to build each other up. We need to help one another get some rest before that over tired mom has a complete breakdown in the checkout line at the grocery store because their child dropped the gallon of milk that was too heavy for them and split the damned thing wide open. She’s crying in a puddle of milk eating a snickers off the shelf as her boobs leak all down the front of her because someone is crying. It’s her! She’s crying! I mean, that never happened, what are you even talking about??!!!!
Until next time 🙂