The Picture of Sleep Deprivation
As I write this post, I thank God you can’t see what I look like. Picture yoga pants, tank top, hair in a sloppy ponytail, dark circles, and an unwashed face. I consider the fact that I got my contacts in this morning without perforating my cornea a win. Last night Sydney decided that she wanted to wake up every hour on the hour to eat. I have no idea what made her go from waking up twice a night to this new nightmarish schedule, but I pray it doesn’t continue. Yes, I put my kids on the bus looking like I was run over by one.
The Never Ending To-Do List
I sit here writing this, thinking about all the other things I should be doing now that Sydney is napping. I realize it’s been at least seven weeks since I’ve even written out a To-Do List for myself. I sit here dreaming of a nap I know I can’t take. Even if I could make my body cooperate, which it almost never does, the thoughts in my head start racing, telling me I should hurry up and unload the dishwasher, finish my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, write this post, figure out what in the hell I’m going to make for dinner, take a shower, put on real clothes, sweep the dinning room, write a note allowing my daughter to get my son off the bus on her own, and on and on. For a SAHM it can be difficult not to feel like the days bleed into one another without stop, but add a newborn and sleep deprivation to the mix and I barely recognize that whole weeks are flying by. I feel like I’m not getting a lot done. I feel sloppy and lazy and oh so very TIRED.
Mom’s Night Out
The other day I watched Mom’s Night Out. It was a great movie and I felt especially connected to the main character – a SAHM of three kids and an aspiring mommy blogger. I won’t divulge too much because it was a great movie, but I will mention two parts I especially identify with (SPOILER ALERT – SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT). She calls herself the Bruce Banner of SAHMs. One minute calm and then inexplicably turning into the Hulk the next. I can relate. I often have “moments” as she calls them, where the stress bubbles over and I lose it. I try to control the Hulk, but sleep deprivation definitely makes it harder.
Yesterday I had to try hard to keep myself from freaking out over my son spilling his apple juice all over the floor. Seems so silly to me now, but sleep deprivation while parenting feels a lot like living on autopilot. I get the basics covered like remembering to get my kids off the bus, monitoring homework time, cooking dinner, getting through the bedtime routine, all the while feeding and changing the baby. Anything else, any extra work just pushes my brain past the scope of it’s lowered capacity and out comes the Hulk. The second part of the movie I really LOVE is when her husband tells her that her job is… and she fills in his pause with the word “hard.” What he says though is “important.” “Your job is important.”
It’s A Thankless Job I’m Thankful For
There are people who think parenting is not really work. After all I don’t collect a paycheck. Hell, I’d settle for a “thank you” most days over whining about what I made for dinner or settling the great “it’s my turn to watch my show on TV” debate. Well moms and dads I don’t need to tell you that this parenting gig is supremely hard sometimes. New parenthood is like boot camp. Your thoughts and decisions become dictated by someone else. I don’t eat, sleep or shower when I want too. I pray for small chunks of time when the baby is napping and the older kids are at school and then I attempt to cram a day’s worth of activities into them.
Would You Rather Eat or Sleep?
It’s crazy when you think about it. It’s torturous to have to decide which of your basic living functions you can have at a given moment. Food vs. sleep. Use the bathroom vs. get a drink of water. Yet we do it. We change our baby’s diaper while we hold our own bladder. We feed our baby while our stomach growls. If you’re like me you bathe your baby, yet have to wait for perfect conditions to arise just so you can take a 15 minute shower that almost feels like a spa, that is until one of your kids barges in telling you that the baby needs to eat so you’d better hurry up. I look around my house at things I should be doing and start to feel like a failure. I feel like being a SAHM means my house should be spotless, my kids impeccably behaved, and I should be a crafting, volunteering, Martha Stewart wannabe. But that’s just not realistic. So I have to remind myself that my job is important. It’s a good reminder to all of us. The important things in life just don’t end up on a To-Do list.
It’s A Marathon Not A Sprint
I’m finishing this post days after I started it. This morning I managed to get my kids washed, dressed and out the door in time for church, while I had to run back upstairs to change my baby vomit and coffee stained shirt. I made sure the kids looked presentable and almost forgot to run a brush through my hair. I need to make a conscious effort to remember myself and that’s what you need to do as well new mamas. Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, if you find yourself back at the starting line 10 minutes after you started this parenting race or 10 years, it makes no difference. It takes some crazy endurance because parenthood is a marathon not a sprint. So I needed this reminder and I hope you find it helpful too – RELAX, BREATHE, REMEMBER THAT WHAT YOU DO IS IMPORTANT, AND REMEMBER TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. THE TO-DO LIST CAN WAIT.