Sleep. We don't do it.

by | Dec 18, 2008 | Parenting | 3 comments

Nobody sleeps here. I mean, I knew this already, but last night it has suddenly become clear to me that we’re just not sleeping. We might as well not even try. Zuzu woke up a bunch of times, and every time I went in there, one or both boys would say something in a very-much-awake voice. Henry would be sitting up and saying, “Mom, we read a book about a gingerbread man where…” and then I angrily shush him, which probably isn’t helpful. I finally crawled into bed with the boys and they spent the night chatting amiably and diddling my belly fat with their feet (thanks for that, boys) (thanks also to Eli who has started to refer to me as “The Mother Elephant” though I think this is a reference to the Babar books we’ve been reading lately and not a reference to maternal girth). I used to sort of think that they slept at night, if fitfully, and Dave and I were the ones who were fully awake. Now I’m thinking that we’re all just fully awake, all night long. I mean really are we seriously not paying enough attention to them during the day that they need to stay up all night in case we wander by?

Ugh, and the wandering. During the night both boys might get up and walk around from bedroom to bedroom, trying to find another warm body. Which just makes Dave and I wander around also, and so at any point you might find four of us casually milling about in the hallway, like it’s noon and we’re deciding between soup or sandwiches.

I am at a total loss here. This is about five-and-a-half years of not sleeping. I used to be such a morning person, and now I am just not. I am one of those “five more minutes” people who’s all grumbly in the morning and can barely stumble downstairs to her warm cup of coffee (decaf! the injustice!). Every morning when I put in my contacts I look in the mirror and am just horrified by my reflection.

I honestly feel like we’ve tried every single solution. Henry sleeps the best (closely followed by Zuzu), but he didn’t sleep through the night until he turned four. Sleepless in America made the biggest difference for us, but here we are, exhausted and bickering and wandering and sleep stupid and I just eat chocolate all day and that makes the biggest difference besides Sleepless in America but it doesn’t actually help anyone sleep more and doesn’t help to reduce my foot-diddleable paunch.

The only things I haven’t tried: giving the kids brandy, saying, “You must sleep now!” and locking them in their rooms, and beating them.

How does this affect our days? Besides the fact that I seem to be stealing beauty tips directly from Lady Elaine Fairchild, essentially it makes us insane. I was just shoveling snow with Eli, and I got so annoyed at him wanting to switch shoveling implements every twelve seconds that I angrily threw my shovel to the ground while cursing under my breath like Popeye. Which is perhaps a bit of an overreaction. (In my defense, however, he kept wanting to trade me a teaspoon-size kid shovel for my legitimate snow shovel, or he’d announce, “Switch!” and would have nothing at all to trade.) And I just called my mom and told her not to come for Christmas (Julie = horrible daughter) because I just can’t deal with another human being in the house.

And I find that I’m unable to come up with a satisfactory conclusion to this post because I’m too tired. So there.


  1. Emily

    Oh, my. so many things I can say about this, recognizing every bit, except I have only one child — one chld who refers to me, alternately, as mama elephant, mama pig, mama hippo, or mama horse. Never, for instance, mama gazelle, or mama sylph, or even mama sleek fish. He who goes to bed at 7:30 but is found, naked and squatting on the windowsill looking out the window at 185th street, with the lamp crashed on the floor, perfectly awake and narrating the scene at 9:45. He whose new comfort body part is my belly, which appears to do the same soothing trick as feeling up my breasts, and which if I were to squeeze it properly could fill another cup in a bra if one were to wish to lift and separate it… we shall not even begin to discuss my extra chin. My experience of sleep problems is that they are all-consuming, and then go away without much relationship to the effort you made or book you read to make them go away. This rhythm might go unnoticed when you have three of them, staggering their sleep problems until you stagger. Steady on. You are not a bad daughter. You are a rather astonishingly good mother, writer, partner, friend, makerofhome, daughter, librarian, in whatever order you choose to line those up. I send you soothing face cream and cucumbers for this morning. And brandy. See, even that as your most desperate act shows how good you are. Sometimes I find Scott standing behind Wylie miming conking him on the head with a blunt object, Wylie happily babbling on and on about which next book we’re going to read or which bridge we’re going to build or whatever, while his mother and father plot his unconsciousness and look forward to a glass of wine. Sometimes I’ve already had the wine. Much love, me

  2. Julie

    Oh Emily! Thank you! You made me laugh and cry all at once. Really it’s just very nice to know someone else deals with this stuff too.

    And I will say that I wrote this post yesterday, and that last night wasn’t as bad. It seems to be related to absolutely nothing. Variables which should make a difference but don’t: exercise, food, excitement. It’s like potty training, maybe, and they’ll just do it in their own time while the parents stand on the sidelines doing a misbegotten dance of insanity.

  3. Annette

    Hi Julie, I too have 3 kids but we’re a few years ahead. In my house we call it “the parade of zombies” where they stream into my room, look at me and I get up to take them back to bed. Or the zombies climb in and kick me in the kidneys with their sharp little toes. They never wake up my husband. He’s a “B lister.” 🙂 I’m sorry this is happening to you. I work full time and always thought the nighttime routine was their way of catching up with me so I’ve endured it. There was that one fateful day where I almost fell asleep while talking to my boss…not good. We had the ability to separate the kids. That helped since they seemd to wake each other up otherwise. A king sized bed in our room helped too…less crowded. Sometimes I wake up and I’m not sure which little person is there with me. I always think of the counting song “there were three in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over!” Take care and know I’m thinking of your blog as I work on 365 things. I’m way ahead! lol! Best, Annette


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