Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Past Deadline: My Evil Bosses

And here I am, up way too late, posting the epistle from The Perth Courier published June 16/09.

My evil bosses

I work for a couple of terrible bosses who hardly ever give me enough time off to sleep.

One boss is me (Evil Me Boss). I’m self-employed. I work from home: Mom by Day, Fabulous Communications Whiz by Night or Whenever I Can Squeeze It In. The later I work, the less sleep I get. (Duh. Really?) I still have to get up at the same time in the morning.

The other boss? The kids. And they can be brutal.

When kids are babies, an amazing thing happens to parents: they grow a third eye. No, not really. What happens is their bodies seem to adapt, at least for a short time, and function reasonably well on broken sleep. When babies are up every two to four hours at night in those early weeks, you tend to manage. Just be sure to avoid operating heavy machinery or working as an air traffic controller.

Then the routine changes and babies sleep for longer stretches. Let’s say, for instance, baby has been waking up every four hours at night for six weeks. Then, suddenly, she sleeps for six hours! This is generally good news, but it can sure mess things up at first. Allowing my body to enter some new, almost-forgotten phase of sleep (like, say, REM) felt worse than staying up all night. As your brain and body sink deeper into meaningful, relaxing sleep, it takes a heckuva lot longer to emerge from those cloudy depths.

As the babies get older, they tend to sleep longer. You get to the “Holy cow! He slept through the WHOLE night!” phase. Eventually you start getting so much uninterrupted sleep – hours and hours of it – that you start to feel human again.

A friend of my mom’s once told me that once you become a parent, you never sleep well again. I’m really starting to see evidence of this. Her point was that even when they’re adults, you still lie awake worrying about your kids, but I think my kids will have me killed off long before I get to that point. We have some sort of sleep-deprivation form of torture going on at our place.

For months, even years, I was lulled into a false sense of sleep normalcy as the kids, for the most part, slept through the night. Then, however, I began to encounter the lethal combination of one evil boss colluding with the other. On those sporadic occasions when several deadlines for multiple clients merge and are due at the same time, Evil Me Boss puts me to work and the hours are atrocious. Invariably, that’s when the children try to finish me off.

Girlchild doesn’t nap anymore, which is fine. If she does happen to fall asleep during the day, it’s bad news for the household at night. It either takes her hours to fall asleep or she goes down easily but wakes up ready to party in the middle of the night. Every once in a while, for no discernible reason, she springs to life for a two-hour night-time stint anyway. If she kept it to herself that would be one thing, but she always comes into Mom and Dad’s bedroom asking for a snuggle or her music or the planets to be aligned or whatever, so we end up popping out of bed several times to try to get her settled. Boychild sometimes adds to the fun, too, if he has a bad dream or he just wakes up at a ridiculously early hour. One night Girlchild woke up Boychild at 5 a.m. because she “forgot to say goodnight to him.” Local inhabitants were not amused.

So if Mommy has stayed up too late and spends the night experiencing sleep-deprivation torture, it makes for Fun Times at Homestead the next day.

Girlchild starts school in the fall (full-day, alternate day). Although I’m sure I will have moments of nostalgia for those innocent toddler years, I also see it as a beacon of rest. For one thing, maybe it’ll tire her out enough to curtail the overnight parties. Secondly, it’ll free up more daytime work hours for me, which might soften the Evil Me Boss.

I’m not kidding myself, though. There will never be enough hours in the day, right?


momma's heart said...

I am always amazed about how much of parenting involves dealing with sleep issues! Right now, I feel that my whole existence revolves around my baby's naps.

I loved this! Sounds like things will be more manageable when she starts school. Should make working from home a whole lot easier. I did it when we were in CA, and sometimes I would have to get a babysitter so I could stay in my room and try to meet a paperwork deadline. Stressful times.

Betsy said...

And too many hours in the night. I'm always amazed at how I can wake up 20 times per night, or be woken up 20 times per night, and it's still not morning yet.