Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Past Deadline: Why Is Sleep So Difficult?

Being tired makes me cranky. Read all about it in The Courier, Tuesday, Sept. 8/09.

Why is sleep so difficult?

Just when I think the sleep issues in life are pretty much over, I keep returning to the topic. I am also haunted by the words of my mom’s friend Pat, who sagely proclaimed one day years ago that, with motherhood, “You’ll never sleep well again.”


My short people are aged seven and almost four. Naps were given up so long ago I can barely conjure images of those days with the blissfully quiet break in the afternoon. Suffice it to say, I was under the (obviously mistaken) impression that by now, beyond babyhood, interrupted sleeps would be a thing of the past.


Between bad-dream soothings and glass-of-water requirements on the part of both darling children, not to mention Girlchild’s bizarre occasional habit of waking up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason and staying up for about two hours, there are some fairly zombie-like adults roaming around the abode by times.

Last week alone, one or both kids were up at least once four nights in a row. That’s more than usual. I think they are trying to kill us.

Boychild used to do the two-hour-party thing, too. When we said goodbye to naps that helped – for a while. Now it’s Girlchild’s turn. When she wakes up in the night she spends the bulk of her two-hour party in her room (allegedly “going back to sleep”), but this time is usually punctuated by three or four trips into our room to alert us to the fact she is, indeed, awake. I guess I’m not running her hard enough during the day. Clearly I need to sign her up for boot camp. This little trend has been occurring for about a year. As much fun as it is, I have to admit I am eager for it to end. Interrupted sleep makes mommy cranky.

Girlchild starts school this fall, and I’m hoping this will help to deplete those obviously abundant stores of energy she has, at least by a little. It worked for Boychild. His two-hour-night-time-party habit disappeared once he went to Kindergarten, and I have been meaning to send a bouquet of flowers to his teacher for that.

That all said we experienced a cute sleep interruption when we went on vacation recently.

At the cottage where we stayed, the kids’ bedrooms were upstairs and ours was downstairs. To ensure we could hear trouble in the night (as tempting as it is to ignore it), we brought along our baby monitor and set it up in Girlchild’s room. This baby monitor has been in her room at home every single night of her life. We still turn it on, but we don’t rely on it so much now since she just gets out of bed and comes to us.

Anyway, we told Girlchild at the cottage that if she needed us we’d hear her on the monitor.

“The monitor?” she said, looking at it in amazement. “You mean if I talk you can hear me?”

Nutbar. She knows this. She and her brother have howled into the monitor on occasion just to be, well, noisy kids. So she goes to bed. Moments after we’re downstairs we hear thud thud thud. Then rustle rustle rustle as she gets her mouth against the microphone. I’m expecting to hear, “Breaker breaker, come in please.”

“HELLO?” she stage whispers into the monitor. “Can you hear me?”

We roll our eyes. Of course this isn’t a two-way deal, so in order to communicate one of us has to go back upstairs.

There were several false alarms before she fell asleep. That night she woke up in the middle of the night. Thud thud thud. Rustle rustle rustle. “HELLO? I NEED HALP,” comes the stage whisper into the darkness. We had to laugh, even though it marked the start of a two-hour party.

The next night began much like the first, so we told her we weren’t actually turning the monitor on until we went to bed. She was quite miffed that her microphone was falling on deaf ears.

Oddly enough, since we got home she has paid the monitor no heed. She’s still partying in the night, though.

School starts in five…four…three…(grin!).

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