Before I had kids I really was pretty harsh on the young parents in my life. They’d come in to work complaining about lack of sleep and I simply did not get it. My thinking was they should have just turned off those lights and gone to bed earlier. I mean, how hard could it be to sleep? Oh, I had no idea. No clue as to what happens when you bring a new baby into your home–for the rest of your life! No understanding of the torture that is involved. Beautiful joy and beautiful pain all wrapped together. It isn’t just one night of sleep that you lose. It is a 2nd and a 3rd and a 4th…and then it is one year of no sleep, 2 years of no sleep. And so forth and so on.
I have always been really pleased when my kids reached about 2 or so, because I found that there were less disturbances at night and less early morning wakings. Now that my youngest is 3 it is even better. I am actually beginning to get my 8 hours of sleep– now and then. Until of course, nights like last night happen. So, I’m tucking my 6-year-old into bed and she announces to me in a very serious and somewhat worried way that she is in charge of breakfast tomorrow. I hadn’t heard about that, so I responded by saying, “Really, honey? What are you going to be doing for breakfast?” She goes on to tell me that all the sisters had decided that it was her turn to wake up, prepare breakfast and let them know when it was ready. She then told me that she was going to warm up our leftover pancakes and also put together granola and yogurt. As I tucked her into her covers and kissed her good-night I felt so proud of her for being so compassionate and thoughtful. She is growing up so fast, I thought. And then…I felt something else, something subtle…way down deep. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was a part of me that didn’t like the fact that she was so seriously thinking about waking up to make breakfast for the family. Some deep Mama instinct rose up and gave me a very subtle warning–which I promptly dismissed. After all, it was bedtime. I was tired. Okay honey, that’s nice, just go to sleep!
I wish I would have listened to that inner warning. I would have had a lot more sleep last night. So…as you may have guessed, my sweet Priyasha woke up in the wee hours of the morning and began to prepare breakfast for her sisters. She went downstairs, turned on all the lights, put out the pancakes, granola and yogurt and fruit along with the bowls and the utensils. Then she woke up her groggy sisters, who joined her in the kitchen. Then, much to everyone’s chagrin…they (by accident) woke up Daddy Bear, who is not all that cheery, even in the late morning hours. He comes downstairs to a full-blown breakfast at 3am and promptly sends everyone back to their rooms. Tears, exhaustion, commotion. By now Mom is awake and wondering what on earth is going on. Why is Daddy making all this noise? She blames him for not being able to fall back asleep. Then, when she does finally crawl out of bed around 5am she discovers the half-eaten, 3am breakfast and understands everything.
All this to say…do listen to that still, small voice when you are tucking your kids into bed at night. Do not dismiss those thoughts– they could save you from missing precious hours of sleep! Our instincts are there for a reason! Our battles have taught us some things. Next time, when my little one bounces a creative, new idea off of me…I may just take a moment to actually think through the idea with her and give her some constructive feedback instead of saying, “That’s nice, honey. Now, just go to bed.” That thoughtful pause might just win me a few more hours of much-needed sleep.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/2/2017) Donnie Ray Jones (Flickr)