The other night Dylan starting howling around 2 AM and since it’s (thankfully) been a long time since that has happened I had no context when I woke up, only the vague panicked sense that SOMETHING WAS HORRIBLY WRONG, and thus came bolting out of bed as though propelled by a high-bypass turbofan engine and arrived in his room panting and only semi-awake. “ARRRNNN,” I blared incoherently, scrabbling for the light in order to more accurately fend off the anaconda that had surely wrapped itself around his screaming body, while unleashing a flurry of randomly-aimed karate chops into the air. “BUHHH!”

He was, of course, fine—just sitting there rubbing his eyes while issuing forth an angry complaint about a bad dream or tangled blanket or erupting molar or whatever the heck his problem was, and as I patted him back to sleep I thought: no way could I do this again. I mean, I’ve had no second thoughts about adding a third child to our family, but specifically on the issue of sleep, I think I have really and truly used up the very last bit of my ability to get up multiple times per night with an infant for an extended period of time. For all those sentiments about Jebus never giving you more than you can handle, I say: bullshit. I’m pretty sure I was born with a finite amount of Deal With a Small Baby’s Inability to Sleep Through the Night Without Going Slap Out of Your Mind, and it is all gone, much like the spotless interior leather in the backseat of my car and the elasticity in my hooters.

As bad as it is when you’re being woken up every night, though, it’s almost worse when it happens out of the blue. The paper-thin defenses you managed to shore up during those early endless months in order to function at 3 AM without being completely immobilized by self pity are no longer available, and having to get up feels less like an unpleasant but necessary parental task and more like the end of human existence as we know it. Four horsemen! Seven trumpets! A pile of curdled milk-barf on an difficult-to-remove cribsheet! WE WILL ALL DIE IN A LAKE OF FIRE.

It’s possible I have a tendency to overreact about these things, I’m not sure.

I was thinking about this subject recently because of a friend’s adorable non-sleeping baby and the CRAZY amounts of advice she’s surely getting on what to do about the situation. I suffer from the same malady of most parents I know, which is that we cannot keep our traps closed when it comes to difficult childhood stages because 1) we truly do want to help if we can, but more importantly, 2) we LOVE to talk about our own horror stories and all the various ass-pains our children have caused us and we will hold forth on these subjects ALL DAY LONG if you don’t physically clap your hand over our mouths and tell us to stop for the love of christ. When it comes to sleep, I have no good advice whatsoever, but I can hardly believe how much I like to talk about it, and worse, how badly I want to interrupt whatever sleep scenario is being described in order to shout “I KNOW, RIGHT? TOTALLY! MY KID DOES THIS THING—”

Ditto food issues, behavior challenges, potty training, illnesses, random fears, etc, etc, etc. I don’t think it’s that I’m hoping to win at Misery Poker, I think it’s more than I’m so ridiculously geeked that someone else gets it, I can hardly contain myself. It’s like this instant connection: your kid does that too? Oh thank GOD! Holy fuck, I thought I broke my kid!

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it? I mean, none of us can offer bulletproof advice on how to deal with whatever parenting speed-bump is at hand, because much as I wish it were not so, there are basically ZERO black-and-white solutions for kids who won’t sleep, eat, or stop pummeling their parents in the gut with their furious little hooves during diaper changes. Sometimes, commiseration is all you can ask for. Which is why it’s nice to have a blog to vent on, so when a friend is talking to me, I can usually manage to shut myself the fuck up and listen for a change.


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Nellie V.
Nellie V.
14 years ago

I hear ya.

You know how they say old people don’t need as much sleep? Well, have a baby at 46 and another at 48 and still be without sleep when you are in your 50s…

14 years ago

As usual, even on a totally crappy day, you make me smile. Thanks.

14 years ago

I just have to say I remember vividly those nights of being “immobilized by self-pity”, especially the times I used to look down at my darling husband sleeping next to me, as I nursed Baby and tried to get him back to sleep and being consumed with the desire to *kick him [husband] really hard* until he woke up, just so he could suffer as much as I was. And, I mean, we always took shifts and he often brought me the baby, so it’s not like he was getting 8 hrs every night while I was sleepless.

14 years ago

My grandma, on my *third* pregnancy *insisted* I try chocolate for nausea. Yeah, Grandma? You had *one*. That’s a pretty small sample size.

But it WAS chocolate, so I HAD to give the Wisdom of the Ages a shot (and without the snark, too, b/c it WAS grandma).

Oh, you weren’t really looking for anecdotes, were you? Sorry, fellow LISTEN-TO-ME offender. AKA “parent” ;-)

Thanks for this. Yet again, I enjoy.

sarah tindall
14 years ago

The Good Lord don’t give you any more than you can handle because at some point, usually when you are up in the middle of the night with a kid who is barfing/shitting/crying/wandering you decide that you can’t handle it anymore. And then you remember that He turned water into wine so you have some of that to toast your decision. And then you drink the rest of the bottle because you wonder if you should have made that decision a few years ago.