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All I Want is a Good Night's Sleep

Right now, as I type, my daughter is awake in the living room. She has made a nest on the couch and she is reading a Franklin book. No matter that she could be reading something more…well…elevated. She likes Franklin right now.

It is exactly 38 minutes after her bedtime. Her father is out for the evening, which is when things like this happen. Somehow, kids can smell my weakness. I won’t force them to eat; I won’t force them to pretend to sleep.

My first baby came out skinny and energetic. He turned over for the first time when he was a few days old. When he was a small baby, he was awake for two hours, then asleep for a half an hour. Not just during the day: day and night. Thus I was awake for hours, asleep for very few. After a few months, he switched his nighttime pattern so that he’d sleep two hours at a time.

They do sleep...when you cant!

They do sleep...when you can't!

This lasted until he was approximately three.

I remember one day when he was a toddler and for some reason, my parents had come to my house and then I was going to theirs. I had a moment of lucidity in which I asked my father to drive my car. As he drove onto the one-lane bridge we have to cross to get to their house, another car came around the curve at us, full speed. If I’d been driving, we’d no doubt be dead. I was so sleep deprived I could hardly think.

You’re wondering now we why didn’t use the method you used which was so successful. Well, we used them all. We tried Dr.-Scream-it-out (I have apparently suppressed his name from my memory). We tried Sears’ family bed. My husband bought a book called All I Need is a Good Night’s Sleep. We bought a video on Amazon.com by a Dr. Hull — we called him Dr. Dull but still, we tried his method.

When we flew to Italy when our son was a toddler, we even tried illicit drugs. Some friends gave us a sedative they sell over the counter in France to make kids sleep. Our son slept for 45 minutes and then was up for the rest of the flight, charming the flight attendants, but wearing his parents’ patience thinner yet.

When our son was three, we had been thinking about having another child, and I was joking that I was going to wait till our first one was sleeping through the night. One night I just lost it. I stood outside his room holding the door handle screaming, “Go To Bed! Go To Sleep! Leave Me Alone!”

Did you know that moms can scream in capital letters?

Almost exactly a month after that fateful night when my son finally did figure out that even if he didn’t sleep, he didn’t need to tell me about it, I was pregnant again. Be careful what you joke about.

Our second baby was a parents’ dream. She woke once a night for feeding when she was young. At one year, she never woke us again at night.

Till she did.

Our second one sleeps just fine, as long as everything is in order. You see, a child’s daytime personality is not necessarily her nighttime personality. Our son, so quiet and [occasionally] obedient during the day, was a wild man at night. Our daughter, who seems so full of bravado, not to mention vim and verve, during the day, falls sleep at 8 and sleeps a solid 11 hours.

Unless she doesn’t.

It’s always a disturbance in the routine: dinner at 6, bath at 7, put to bed at 8 by Daddy. If I put her to bed, she’d wake me at night. If we went out to a friend’s house for dinner, if we skipped the evening bath, if she didn’t like dinner. The reasons piled up. During the day, she’s afraid of nothing. At night, we never know. Our daughter, she of the bravado, has nightmares about Casper. (Yes, the friendly ghost!) She had nightmares about The Borrowers, for goodness sake.

It’s not fair to her, but her father and I now have no tolerance for these disturbances. Three years nearly drove us over the edge. Now as I sleep I am still poised, waiting for that baby to cry, the sound of “Mommy!”, the opening of a door. She didn’t get her first three years to disturb us, so she’s making up for it now.

All I want is a good night’s sleep.

And I’ll probably get it, tomorrow.

Posted in Health, Parenting.


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