There are things nobody warned me about. Perhaps it was for fear that I would chicken out — get cold feet forgo the whole marriage/having kids thing.
Life changed — that it did. Ask most moms, and they’ll tell you that nothing’s easy any more, but it’s all worthwhile. Yet, I’m sure most of us have some aspect of the mommy life that strike us as particularly cruel and unusual punishment. For some, it might be the lack of “me time” or saying goodbye to a hobby. For others, the fact that our bodies never quite bounce back the way they once were. For me, the fact that a solid night of quality sleep would never, ever, be mine again has been the hardest change to embrace.
I expected this when they were babies. I’d heard all about the midnight feedings, the days and nights turned upside down — none of that came unexpected. But the ongoing, decade-long-and-counting consistency of inconsistent sleep has come as a complete surprise.
The kids, my husband, the dogs, the cat, they all get in on the joke on mommy — where the punchline is me never sleeping more than 4-6 hours in any given stretch.
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The other night, after having been awakened by my daughter’s cough, my son’s bad dream, my husband’s snoring, the cat showing affection by love-biting my neck and both beagles needing out — not at the same time, of course — I was having trouble returning to sleep. Imagine that.
I stared into the dark, and a tune popped into my head: Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” The words, however, were different. I call it, “50 Ways to Wake Your Mother.”
“The problem’s between you and your bed,” they say to me.
But I admit that I suspect conspiracy,
I’m being framed to star in a Paul Simon parody.
It’s called “50 Ways to Wake Your Mother.”
Just have a bad dream, then scream,
Throw up on the floor outside her door,
If you’re a canine, you can whine,
Until she gets out of bed.
You can give her a quiz, she’s a whiz,
Ask her if she’s awake, (she might fake),
Say you can’t find your shoe, or the glue,
And she’ll wake from the dead.
I think I’m turning in for a night of restful slumber,
But they all take their turns to make sure that thought’s a blunder,
My husband sleep-talks, and the cat walks on my face,
Proving there’s 50 ways to wake your mother.
As soon as she’s out, shout,
Ask to snuggle ‘cause you’re cold (she’ll fold),
Send her a text, next,
Say you just need a hug.
Beg her to get you a drink from the sink,
Let out a big laugh or take a bath,
Come down with the croup — or have to poop,
She’ll do it all with a shrug.
Sometimes while everyone else is sleeping peacefully,
I lay awake, pondering a twist of irony,
I think of them, so I creep into their rooms,
To hear them breathe, ’cause I love them like no other.
I’d love to sleep all through the night again some day,
For now my family will each night get in the way,
But when they’re sleeping, it’s true I miss them so.
I lie there, wishing they’d come wake their mother.”
Overland Park mom and freelancer Emily Parnell writes regularly for 816.