“When you become a parent,” a friend of mine told me when I was about 8 months pregnant with Ruby, “your whole life starts to revolve around sleep. Well, also poop. Poop is important, too. But really, it’s mostly all about sleep. I used to fantasize about sex – places to try, positions to try. Now I fantasize about places to nap and positions to nap in.”
“Whatever,” I told her. “I am already not sleeping. It’s not like it could get worse.”
God, I was stupid.
Seven years later, and all I think about is sleep. Pre-kids, I adored Daylight Saving Time. It was a sure sign that spring was coming, and I giddily turned the clocks ahead and shed my wintertime hermit behavior and was suddenly all about dining outside, hiking outside after work, maximizing as much of that wonderful late sunlight as I could manage. During college, when my earliest class was at 11, having to wake up at a time that felt a whole hour earlier to my body had no real effect. Once I started having to get up for an office job in my early 20s, it was a little bit rougher, but it was totally worth it for all the glorious sun! But now that I have kids, ugh, Daylight Saving Time can just go straight to hell.
This year, Daylight Saving Time came on the heels of a 10-day school break for Ruby, so we were off our normal schedule anyway, and the early wakeup felt extra-brutal. When I shook Ruby awake at technically-7-but-really-felt-like-6 a.m. on Monday, she immediately started moaning and then began vigorously kicking while whining/keening, “I don’t want pajamas on my leeeeeegggggssss!” I left her in this furious fugue state and stumbled my bleary-eyed way into the kitchen to make breakfast for her and coffee for me, and when I came back into her room with a Toaster Strudel as a peace offering, she was calm again but just looked up at me with pleading eyes and said: “It can’t possibly be time to wake up. I am pretty sure I just went to sleep.”
By this point in the week, she has sort of kind of adjusted to the new time, but I haven’t because Georgia is absolutely refusing to cooperate.
Normal babies, I think, go to sleep at like 7:30, right? And sleep through the night? Not Georgia. (She is, yes, comparatively, my good sleeper, but Ruby is so terrible that a meth-fueled lemur would actually be a better sleeper than she is.) We have tried putting Georgia to sleep at 8 or 9 at night, but she invariably wakes up at 4 a.m. ready to start the day. If, however, we don’t put her down until 10, she will sleep until 8. I have no idea why putting her down at 8 or 9 at night doesn’t result in her sleeping till 6 or 7, but I promise you that we have tried every combination, and her body chemistry is just set to sleep from 10 to 8. Sometimes, as during the week Ruby was on school break over Mardi Gras, Georgia would stay up even later and sleep in later – though never, ever earlier. And so Sunday night, the clock said 11:30 p.m., and Georgia was only just starting to rub her eyes and look sleepy. The next morning, I tried to wake her up early in hopes of resetting her internal clock, but she just wasn’t having it. She was still sleeping when I left for work; my mom, who watches her during the day, texted me that she slept until 10. She has not yet gone to sleep before 11 all week, although I guess tonight could finally be the night…
As for the extra daylight, I wish I could enjoy it more, but with the lack of sleep, we are all so crabby that it hardly matters.
Yesterday on a car ride to the drugstore, an exhausted and unusually unpleasant Ruby bitched and moaned about absolutely everything under the (still-shining) sun. She was mad because I was making her wear shoes into the store even though she has “very sensitive feet.” She was mad that a week ago I had bought her a plastic pig full of candy but really she was just now realizing that she had wanted the plastic cow full of candy. She was mad that last week, when I bought her an iced tea at PJ’s, they didn’t put enough honey in. She was mad that Easter was still so far away. She was mad that her birthday was so close to Christmas. She was mad about something rude her camp counselor said to her two summers ago.
Finally, with a deep sigh, she said, “Mom, can you turn the heat off? It’s making my lips chapped.”
“OK,” I said, “I just had it on because I’m kind of chilly.”
“Ugh,” she said. “I am, too! But you don’t see me complaining!”
At that point, I just had to laugh.
Even when I am tired, even when my kids are tired and bratty and downright nocturnal, they still brighten my days more than any hour of sunshine could.
It’s true that my life does now revolve largely around sleep (and yes, also poop), and it is also true that I sometimes long for those days when I would come home from work with no one to answer to but the dog and I could sit on a patio drinking wine with my friends all night – but even so, I know I didn’t have this kind of richness in my life back then.
The advice I give to women who are 8 months pregnant is a little different than what my friend gave me. “Good luck,” I tell pregnant friends. “It is really hard, and it might suck a lot at first. But it is also really so much fun.”