Why I Hate Sleep

(mothering)
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I Hate Sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sleeping. In fact, I’m a sleeping addict. If given the opportunity — which rarely happens — I can sleep longer than anyone in my family, including my teenage son. I love to sleep. I just hate sleep itself.

Let me explain.

I hate that I need to sleep and that I need it so badly. I hate what a lack of sleep does to me. It turns me snarky; my personality, my brain, and especially my face.

I go from looking like this…

Nice Loving Wife and Mother
.
To this…
.
.
Snarky
.

I swear I need more sleep than the average human—or at the very least, more than my husband. We’ve been married 16 years and I’m always the first asleep and the last awake. Every day.

I’m like the dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Only instead of thinking Windex can fix anything, I think sleep can.

  • A weepy child? “Oh, you just need a nap.”
  • A failed test? “It’s because you didn’t go to be early enough.”
  • I even think all the fighting in the Middle East would end if people would just get enough sleep!

So here’s my snarky story.

(By the way, “snarky” is my new favorite word. It’s one of those words that defines itself the second you hear it. “Snarky.” It sounds snarky. I love it.)

Anyway, I have five kids, ranging from teen to toddler. Having teens and toddlers at the same time is a horrible idea, btw. The teens keep you up at night and the toddlers don’t let you sleep in. Plus teens and toddlers have the same types of emotional outbursts, only they have them at different times of the day, so you’re stuck dodging mines all day long.

This story starts with my teenage boy, who I actually really like. Early morning seminary is essentially a bible class for teenagers that meets before school at a church or someone’s house. They do it before school because teens often have activities after. The class my son attends is 12 minutes away from our house which means that my husband (the saint) is leaving for work at roughly 5:40AM each and every morning.

He and my son must be showered, dressed, and fed for the day by 5:40, so alarms start going off around 4:30. Yeah. Brutal! Especially for a naturally-born night owl like myself. We keep doing it because it’s worth it for what my son gets out of it, but that doesn’t make it any less brutal.

(A friend of a different faith once pointed out to me that the same church which asks teens and their parents to wake up at 4:30AM for seminary is also the church that tells its members not to drink coffee. Ironic, don’t you think?)

My husband had an over-night business trip last night which meant that I was on driving duty this morning. As such went to bed at 9:30ish. Since I didn’t have to get ready for the day beforehand, I calculated that I could sleep until 5:15. Almost 8 hours of sleep. Not great, but survivable.

There is something about my husband being out of town. It’s like the bewitching beasts come out and suddenly my kids forget how to sleep.

It started with the middle child. He woke up with a nightmare. He has them almost every night so this was nothing new, but he wouldn’t quit screaming this time. That woke up the 4-year-old who shares a room with him.

The 4yo started crying, which in turn woke the 7yo down the hall. She was in the middle of an already scary dream and if you hear one person screaming and another crying when you’re already having a nightmare it is really really freaky. So she started in with the screaming, which in turn woke up the eldest daughter.

(I have to note that my teen son slept through the whole thing because he attends seminary and is seriously sleep deprived. Just another benefit.)

I woke up and started on damage control. (It was 3:15am by the way)

I took care of the instigator first. I told the middle child he wasn’t dying and to go back to sleep.

Then I tried to convince the 4yo that it was still night and not time for breakfast — “See look, it’s dark outside” I said, parting the curtains — and then I tucked him back into bed.

The eldest daughter already figured out what happened and had gone back to sleep.

So I went to the 7yo who was still so freaked by the whole thing she was crying inconsolably in her bed. I patted her head, tucked her blankets, and hoped she’d sleep.

Four kids taken care of.

I climbed back into bed calculating. 7 ½ hours now. Not horrible.

That bought me five minutes.

Just as I was drifting back to sleep, I heard the 7yo still crying. I got up again and patted, tucked, and wished her goodnight — again. I got another five minutes. Then I heard the middle child scream. Again!

By now I’m losing my patience.

I went in his room and told him to knock it off because at 3:25 in the morning, my sleep-deprived brain reasoned that he can actually control his dreams and was just out to punish me for something I’d done to him some time in his life.

Middle Child started to cry, saying he couldn’t stop because he was still scared.

As he’s speaking, the 4yo ducked out the bottom bunk and said, “Is it morning yet?”

“No! Go back to bed. Both of you!”

Hear the snarky creeping in?

But there’s still a small portion of nice mother left, so I decided to see if the 7yo fell back asleep. She met me at her door. “I can’t do it, Mom. I can’t sleep. The dream was so scary. Can I sleep in your room?”

The hubby was gone so I dragged her behind me and climbed back into bed.

7 ¼ hours of sleep.

I was asleep no longer than 30 seconds when I heard pounding. Yes pounding.

The boys’ room.

I went in and the middle child was wide awake on the upper bunk, but not the source this time. The 4yo was on the floor with his hammer-toy thing, pounding away like it was the middle of the day.

I’ll spare the snarky details here, but let’s just say, I was turning part cat.

I put the youngest back in bed and shoved — not tucked — the covers underneath him, hoping to trap him so he would fall back asleep.

When I got back to my bed, the 7yo informed me she was going to stay awake the rest of the night. “That’s better than having another bad dream, Mom.”

I told her that if she didn’t go back to sleep I would never feed her again. (Maybe not quite that dramatic, but something along those lines.)

7 hours.

This kind of pattern continued for another hour. An hour!

Each time my threats got worse and the claws came further out. It’s horrible and I’ve since apologized to each of my children.

Bottom line?

I got 5 ½ hours of sleep last night, which might not sound too bad until you consider that A) I barely function with 8, and B) I went to bed at 9:30!

When I got up at 5:15 to take my son to seminary, the 7yo and the 4yo were up for the day. I don’t think they ever went back to sleep.

Which means I won’t be the only snarky one today.

Joyous.

Just to prove how bad of a night it was, as I type this post, the 4yo is sound asleep on my shoulder. It’s 8:30AM.

Now he decides to sleep?!

I don’t think he’s fallen asleep on me since he was a baby. I have to drive the 10yo and 7yo to school in five minutes, which means I will have to wake up this sleeping, innocent-looking child. Needless to say, I’ve already calculated how bad of a mother I would be if I let them sluff today.

I really hate sleep!

My plea to you: If I you see a snarky-looking cat today that somewhat resembles a mother, have a little pity. She may have had a rough night.

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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

6 thoughts on “Why I Hate Sleep”

  1. I think sleep is a thing of the past with me too. But I'm glad I didn't have to worry about early morning seminary. It was in my class schedule. But I do find the coffee thing very ironic and now I have to tell the hubs cuz he'll laugh his butt off, lol.

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  2. I do that too, where I count how many hours of sleep I'll get if I fall asleep rightnow! I'd be happy with seven hours, though. I always end up supplementing my lack of sleep by dozing off in class (the embarrassing kind, where you're sitting up and your head jerks back when it starts to fall, and everybody totally knew you were falling asleep.)The incident with the hammer toy reminds me of when my brother and I used to play in the hall between our rooms late at night and run away laughing when we got caught…my poor parents. I now understand what they may have been going through.

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  3. This seriously made me laugh out loud. Its so funny because it's so true! There must be some sleep genes in the family because I'm the same way. I need more sleep than normal people or I do get snarky. Such a great word for it! The hammering totally reminds me of Adria. She never needed sleep. Not even a little. I wish you lived closer so I could enjoy more of his antics! We miss you guys all the time!

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  4. Snarky…I remember the first time I heard that word was from a girl in the music program. I didn't want to look stupid so I looked up the definition. The next day a friend was at our place for dinner and we started talking about that girl and the only word he had to describe her was snarky. We use that word a lot at our house.

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  5. @Tricia, those darn genes. They're awfully strong. And I can totally picture Adria hammering at 3 in the morning, too. Love that girl. :) I wish we lived closer too. What ever happened to the Midland option? JK, I know you guys need to be in AZ, I just miss you.@Matt It's an awesome word, isn't it. It paints such a vivid picture. Love it!

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