Today is a return to Mommy Mondays. The beautiful, the hard, and the tired. Parents unite.
The way the street light shines through the tall window in our stairwell casts a long shadow on the opposite wall. Every night I catch myself in it, bare legs stumbling down the stairs, chilly arms clutching whatever sweater I’ve pulled over me for this midnight routine, oft repeated at 3am and then 5.
My beautiful baby boy is two and a half now, he’s sweet and silly and he hasn’t slept through the night more than a handful of times. Some weeks are better than others, he’ll only be up once before dawn. Other stretches he’ll call for us every hour, exhausted himself, unable to soothe.
We were so spoiled by my daughter, who does routine perfectly, happily. Both of my children are easy, mostly, during the daylight. We’ve dodged a lot of the toddler terrors, ear infections and epic tantrums have been scarce. But this sleep thing, it persists.
We’ve mostly white-knuckled it. It’s just a season I’ve said for a long time now. I long denied the health and emotional toll it has taken on me and The Gorilla. Even once we acknowledged that it really, really sucked, we haven’t been able to move forward with a resolution. Recently a professional gave us a few things to try, but highly suggested that we put the new procedures in place while both parents were home, with no houseguests, and when the family schedule was going to be “normal” for at least a week.
That was over a month ago.
Pirate’s bad sleep patterns are sometimes easy to track. He has a very difficult time adjusting when we travel. He is worse when one parent is gone. He’s extremely sensitive to stress and anxiety in the air, so if we’re having a bad day, he is, too. The poor fella inherited more than just fair skin from his momma.
We’ve gone through the cyclical conversation of This is our chaotic lifestyle rhythm, Get on board little dude to What can we adjust to make his life more comfortable? Truthfully, though, it’s become almost normal that only when I hear it reflected back to me do I think it’s a factor in anything else. When I mention it casually to friends, their eyes widen. When I wrote about my struggles last summer, many of you immediately correlated the lack of sleep (even when I dismissed it). This weekend, my visiting sister, a light sleeper listening to the nightly ruckus from the guest room, said kindly but firmly, You can’t live for years like you have a newborn.
It’s funny what you can get used to, isn’t it? What becomes your normal? Sometimes it takes an outsider - or several - to make you see it.
Sleepy in the Shadows
*photo by Eirik Refsdal via flickr