Children make life hell sometimes. Don’t worry. I can love and cherish and be unable to imagine life without them and still feel this way. Because it’s true. Life might be less colorful but it’d be easier and more predictable and more… in control.
I have trouble with sleep. I’m always tired during the day, sometimes to the point of barely functioning. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep – it’s staying asleep for a reasonable amount of time that eludes me. I wake up several times during the night and I tend to wake up about 4:30 every morning – regardless of whether I went to bed at nine or midnight.
When I wake up during the night, I often have trouble falling back asleep. Especially if my brain starts spinning. For this reason, my doctor and I are trying medication for stress to see if it improves my sleep. My sleep situation is my top health priority right now.
What does that have to do with my children?
Let me tell you.
You expect sleepless nights and fatigue when they are infants. You know that for a period of time that is much longer than you think you can survive, they will wake you up every night and you will have to go feed them, rock them, hold them.
And then there’s the period after, when you get to sleep without disturbance most nights. But every once in awhile, more frequently than you’d like but not every night, a child comes into your room or screams from their bed. To tell you he needs to go potty. To tell you she had a bad dream. To try to wheedle her way into your bed for the rest of the night. To cry about the scary thunderstorm.
But eventually, he learns to just go to the potty without coming to tell you about it. She rolls over and goes back to sleep and waits until morning to tell you about the bad dream. She quits trying to sleep with you when it never works. He learns the thunderstorm won’t hurt him and begins to sleep through it.
By the time your youngest child is nearing seven years old, you no longer expect to be disturbed at night. You fool yourself into believing you have your sleep schedule under control. And then they deviously shatter your illusion. Ruthlessly. Mercilessly.
I went to bed early last night. I had sat on my bed from 8 until nearly 8:45, listening to said near seven year old read a Frog and Toad story to me. All 60+ pages of it, in careful, practiced monotone without consistent pausing at periods and with only a few word stumbles. He’s doing great and I’m very proud of him. It’s also kind of mind-numbing and lulling.
I was ready for bed after putting him to bed. So, at 9:15, I retired and fell quickly asleep. I was excited about the possibility of a good night’s sleep. That’s when it always happens. Sleep. Will. Be denied.
Around midnight, I was dragged from the deepest, darkest recesses of sleep by an electronic rooster crowing. I was confused and disoriented. As I slowly and painfully joined the world of the living, I tried to interpret what was happening. An alarm. So it must be time to wake up. But who’s alarm? And why isn’t my husband in bed if it’s morning?
Where is the alarm coming from? Not my room. Not the boy’s room – theirs is a much quieter beeping sound. Not the girl’s room. Hers is even quieter. And both are always quickly silenced. This damn rooster is still crowing. From the living room? Where?
No one seemed to be moving. Except the dog, whose claws I could hear clicking on the floor as she wondered about the rooster too. Then I heard movement and the rooster silenced. My husband? Did he set the alarm? Why?! And why the rooster? He knows I consider that particular alarm sound to be evil. And why the living room when he knows my sleep issues and he was sewing at the far other end of the house? Why?
My heart fell and I felt hopelessly sad and defeated. My dear friend sleep had left me for good. I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon. I finally decided that I might as well go ask him what was going on.
He was, indeed, at the other end of the house, adjusting sleeve and pant lengths on band uniforms for the high school and listening to music that I couldn’t hear until I opened our bedroom door. He had his back to me as I approached. I began to think that maybe I had imagined the rooster. What would I do if he hadn’t heard it? What if I had advanced to waking myself up with imaginary sounds? What then?
Hesitantly I asked him, “Um. Did you hear… a rooster a few minutes ago?”
He burst out laughing and turned with a smile, “Did you like that?!”
“No,” I said without a trace of humor. “It woke me up. I was so deep asleep that I was confused and couldn’t figure out what was going on.”
“Well, I was confused too and I wasn’t asleep. Hal apparently set several alarms on his tablet.”
Boom. Just like that. A curious kid had accidentally or purposely set some alarms, not comprehending the full effect of his actions. Not understanding time, or A.M. vs. P.M. He was just playing. And now I was awake. Children make life hell sometimes.
“I turned them all off,” my husband continued. “He had another one set for one and another for four, I think.”
I must have looked defeated.
“Would you like a hug?” he asked.
I took the hug but didn’t cheer up.
“You know how much I hate that rooster,” I said.
“I know honey. I’m sorry.”
I returned to bed, where I composed this blog post a dozen times in my head before returning to the land of slumber. I slept through my husband coming to bed some time later, and only woke up once that I know of before my alarm went off. But I can tell that today will be an exceptionally tired day.
I was resting on my bed, talking to Jane, when the boys’ alarm went off. I raced into the room, flipped on the light, and as Daryl tried to return to his bed, I yelled, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, Hal Monkey!!”
He began to laugh.
I started with good humor but firmly told him how big of a problem it was. He knew the alarms were set and was proud of it, although I’m still assuming he didn’t understand when they’d go off.
I won’t be able to try going to bed early again until at least Sunday. Last night was to be a rare treat.
Rare treat, indeed.