The Great Sleep Surrender
It’s been about 33 months since I had a good night’s sleep so I am waving the white flag of surrender. This surrender means I am done using every last ounce of my brain and muscle power to get my children to sleep past 6:00 AM. I would get out of bed right now and go over to JoAnn’s Fabric Store to get a giant swath of white material to show myself how serious I am about this surrender, but it’s 5:45 AM and JoAnn’s isn’t open yet. I guess JoAnn doesn’t have little kids.
In these 33 humbling months since Sadie was born, I have spent most of my waking hours with at least part of my brain scheming and plotting about how to get Sadie (and later her brother, Simon) to sleep in. I am not asking for them to sleep until 10:00 AM. Sure, at first I was greedy. I wanted 8:00 AM. There were a few weeks when Sadie was sleeping until 8:00 AM, but that was on the back-end of a stretch of no sleeping so the victory was only pyrrhic. I have tried feeding them fattier, more satiating foods thinking that their brains and bodies would have plenty to feed on through the night. I found some yogurt with a whopping 24 grams of fat per serving, which I thought would induce a coma. It didn’t. They were both still up at 6:02 AM, asking for more yogurt.
I try running them ragged. “Sadie, let’s go outside and run around until we puke.” I try skipping naps, as awful as that makes the evening. I try a harmless combination of baby Benadryl with a touch of Percocet– JUST KIDDING (that’s expensive, do you think I am made of money?). These kids do not sleep past 6:00 AM. On the blissful occasion that they remain in slumber until 6:15 AM, I can’t even enjoy it because I am so tense thinking they will call out at any moment that I just lay there in a very rigid corpse pose trying to will them to keep sleeping. It’s oh so relaxing.
Nowadays, Sadie is in a big girl bed so we can’t control her comings and goings without doing something drastic like locking her in her room. I haven’t seriously considered that because it would backfire, I know it. Upon discovering she was locked in, Sadie would dismantle all of her furniture and hurl her toile chair out the window. Locking the door definitely isn’t worth it, even if I could overcome my other moral and ethical objections.
These days, I think I could get Simon to sleep slightly longer than Sadie does, except that Sadie’s wake-up routine sounds roughly like a group of gorillas playing paintball in her room. I have no idea what she does in there, but starting around 5: 50 AM (when my denial is still in full force and I am pretending we are going to be sleeping for another hour), I start to hear drawers slamming and this violent stomping around. How a 28-pound little person makes that much noise is one of life’s enduring mysteries. I hear her run at full speed to the bathroom that is approximately 4 feet from her door. She usually drops something noisy like the toilet seat lid or a glass of water. This morning, her next step was perplexing: I could see her through the crack in my door– she was kneeling in the hallway by our froggie night-light folding a linen napkin over and over again. I wanted to get a picture of her in her natural, un-self-conscious habitat, but she saw me and ran into my room. But, right when she got to my door, she did an about-face and ran into Simon’s room TO WAKE HIM UP.
Dear readers, do you think I haven’t told her “DO NOT to go into Simon’s room in the morning”? Do you think I haven’t lured her to my room with promises of screen time and unadulterated mommy time? I told her she could have a popsicle as big as her bed if she would, FOR THE LOVE OF JOHN HAMM, not wake Simon up.
Hence, my surrender. I am done with the battle. We wake up at 6:00 AM at my house. I am going to research things to do in the early morning with kids. Target opens at 8:00 AM. I thought this morning we could all go down to the police station (they are always open, right?) and see if we could take a tour. There are all-night taquerias in my ‘hood. There are parks. There is always 7-11.
This, I tell myself, is not the end of the world. My kids are healthy and only as spastic and/or naughty as is warranted by their tender ages. I have lots to be grateful for, so instead of changing them, I am going to change myself and my attitude. I am going to repeat to myself over and over again, “I love super early morning time with my kids.”
Over. And. Over. Until my mantra takes root deep in my being, I am going to keep saying it. After all, it’s 10:00 AM somewhere.