Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Night Shift

New moms get all the breaks. People advise them, "Sleep when the babies sleep," and bring ice cream.  Friends and family suggest date nights and "taking time for me."  

It makes sense.  Rookies need time to adjust to the reality of motherhood, which is not baby waking hours but every hour since the baby first came to be.   I used to joke, parent hours are from five a.m. to twelve midnight, but that was before I had teenagers.

Between teens on dates, teens with jobs, track and field hockey and all the other treats of summer, the window of non-necessary time has shortened on both ends.  My body is missing that extra hour.  Last night, I dreamed I was sleeping.  How tired do you have to be to have your subconscious fantasize about being unconscious?  

My daughter laughed when she saw "Sleep" on my to do list for the day, but I'm serious.

Last night, the four year old came to us at midnight because she had nightmares.  After cuddling, she took herself back to bed at one.  I figured, good for the night.  The light went on at 1:30.  A teen wanted a snack.   The light went on at 4 a.m.  My youngest son needed a change.  He had the grace to curl up at my feet in his blanket after I cleaned him up, but I hadn't the energy or the will to move him.   At 4:30, the four year old returned.  No reason, she just got in bed.

Within fifteen minutes, both children slept perpendicular to the bed, giving me a pillow sized space in between.  I cursed myself for checking the time.   Forty-five minutes until the first alarm.

I could get up, get a jump on the day, get dressed...I'd just opted "No." when  the son with cross country tryouts came running down the stairs to make sure I was awake so he wouldn't be late.

My brain sang a version of the Lego song in the shower.

Everything is awful.
Everything hurts when you don't ever sleep.
Everything is awful
....when you don't get to dream.

A diet coke later, I'm on the road wondering if it would be better if the teenager with a learner's permit took the wheel when he told me I drove like an old lady.   I'd sat at the red light musing about the idea of doing nothing all day for several days.   I imagined floating down a river, sitting at a pool, and feeling strained to open a book, lift a fork or even flip over to tan evenly.   The light turned green.

I told him, there is never a situation when calling someone an old lady is a compliment, it was very early, I hadn't slept and it was closer to home than the school such that his taxi felt taxed to be transportation at this point in the day.  

He had the grace to mend his speech....though the substitute of Wise for Old, wasn't too much of an improvement.

Worse, my body is starting to adjust, to wake up after four hours, expecting to have to do something.

So I've begun strategizing.  There isn't a manual for parents of older children on how to get them to understand, you're closed.  I've tried saying the Internet and the server is down, I'm going offline, off the grid, I'm done, but they don't understand my being tired if they're not.

In the meantime, I've crafted the beginnings of a plan.

First Rule:  Post hours of operation, pad the hours on both ends.  

Second Rule: Have incentives for teens who allow 8 hours that rival Price is Right Showcase Showdowns.  Pay for each hour over six you're allowed to rest.  I've got a coupon for Amazon and one for pizza.  All yours if I get to Carpe Diem the night.

Third Rule:   If all else fails, I'm  finding a cheap artsy movie theatre and wearing dark sun glasses. I will pay for the opportunity to sit still for three hours.  I just hope I don't snore.

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