One thing that no one ever tells you when you are considering starting a family is that you will NEVER really sleep again. Yes, every friend and baby book will warn you about those first few months when babies don’t sleep through the night. But even after your kids are well past the point of not sleeping through the night, your motherly instinct will not ever let you sleep.
The only time I get a real night’s sleep (and my kids are 7 & 10) is when the kids have gone away to Grandma’s house for the night, and usually not until the second or third night they are gone as my body adjusts to the possibility of real sleep. The rest of the time I sleep with one ear cocked ready to respond to the slightest need from my children. I have gotten over worrying about every nighttime cough or sneeze but I still hear each and every one of them. One night several weeks ago, my daughter called out “mommy” in the middle of the night. I found myself in her room wondering how I had gotten there since I had no recollection of getting out of bed or climbing the stairs, just “mommy” and I was at her bedside automatically. She was sitting up in bed looking very concerned but obviously not awake and asking for help. Paranoid about the flu I was quickly assessing the situation, grabbing a garbage can in case she needed to throw up. “Mom, I’m stuck and I have to go to the bathroom”. Apparently she had been sitting up in bed and holding it so long that she couldn’t physically move in her sleepy state. I ended up carrying her to the bathroom and she did her business and promptly went back to bed, never really waking up the whole time.
I knew exactly how she felt about holding it. There was once a time, before we remodeled our house when our only bathroom was downstairs with the bedrooms upstairs. If I got up in the middle of the night and walked down the creaky old farmhouse stairs the dog would think it was time to get up, and the cat would start meowing to be let out. So I would lay awake in suffering knowing that if the dog and cat woke up then surely my daughter would be awakened by all the noise they make. The pets still wake up the second that my feet hit my bedroom door but at least now I can pee in my own bathroom if necessary in the middle of the night.
Today is a day off of school and I had hoped to sleep in a little bit as my husband headed off to work. (The pets don’t seem to care when he gets up.) Every morning that the kids have school I have to drag them out of bed complaining that they want to sleep in longer. Today they were up earlier than they ever are for school, on their own. Tromping down the creaky stairs, waking the cat and dog, and anxious for breakfast and cartoons. I am glad they are old enough to get their morning things on their own but my hopes of sleeping in until 8am were completely dashed.
I imagine that when they are teenagers I will not sleep, as I will be listening with one ear for the sound of the car in the driveway late at night. And then they will be grown and gone and I will probably not sleep for missing all the noises they make. In the meantime, I am a huge advocate of naps whenever possible.