My friends, I’m afraid the time has come that we must talk about…sleep.
I. Am. Exhausted.
Mother friends, you know all about this, I’m sure. You know about the weird netherworld of exhaustion. It can be a numbing, debilitating, and sometimes frightening place to be.
Kiri used to sleep. My only baby who ever slept more than two hours at a time.
A tiny baby of three months, she used to sleep six, seven, eight hours, bless her. And I realized anew the meaning of grace. Sleeping baby = grace.
Her sleeping had nothing to do with what I did or didn’t do. And I know that because, without any changes in routine or anything, she suddenly stopped sleeping.
Then she slept.
Then she didn’t sleep.
Then she did.
Then she didn’t. And she didn’t. And now she…doesn’t.
Having my sleep interrupted every two hours for weeks on end means that I get more and more tired.
Every morning I lay in bed with my eyes closed and tentatively assess the situation, and I ask The Important Question.
Do I feel like crying?
Not the sobbing boohoo or the wailing waaaa, the tears of mother-exhaustion are more like an involuntary seeping, leaking, a slow dripping onto the pillow. Occasionally accompanied by a whimper.
If the answer is Yes? Go back to sleep. Sleep trumps all. Including the morning routine, the rock upon which the day stands. It’s a high price to pay, oh yes.
No? Reassess. Visualize typical morning activities. Still no? Check clock, how late did I sleep? Haha.
My earlier years of nighttime parenting brought a bit of a faith crisis in those long nights and bleary days of stupor. In my experience, God does not answer the oh please, please make the baby sleep prayer with any show of miracle or intervention.
Some of my life’s most ugly, desperate moments (other than actual tragedy and tantrum throwing toddlers) have occurred at night. And grace doesn’t come, I am pushed far beyond what I can handle. And then pushed farther.
I call these moments ungrace.
And frankly, I don’t know what to do with them. I haven’t found a comforting answer or reason or handy phrase to buoy me in the darkness.
I find it best just to let them go. Not get too wigged out about it. Avoid theological cogitation about divine action (especially at night). Try to nap whenever possible.
It’s just a season. I have three living proofs that the baby will eventually sleep all night, and so will I.
I also have proof from those precious months between babies when I’m getting regular sleep, that there is still a highly functioning, vibrant Me waiting to reemerge once the fogs of exhaustion dissipate.
But in the meantime, I’m tired.