Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ay, there's the rub...

I want a break. There. I've said it. It's out there. Not a Sandals resort type of break. Not even close - in fact, if the break i wanted was a holiday it would constitute a trip to Six Flags courtesy of Coca Cola cans...Thrifty and done in a day. 
Okay, so let's get the obvious out of the way, I do not have octuplets, I am not a single parent, my daughter is a dream and loves to, that leaves me feeling worse. I do not need a break. I want a break. I'm looking at her now and she is beaming at me, flashing those two front teeth that decided to debut together. I'm almost deleting this post - but I won't because i promised to be honest - and this is a confessional, right? So, i confess - I'm 6 months in to being a mother, I'm absolutely fried and i want a break. Not to get clean, not to go shopping, not to wander lonely as a cloud but to curl up and close my eyes and just lie and think and sleep and dream for possibly an entire morning.  
I'm a sleeper, always have been. Never been an up and at 'em, which by default is supposed to make me a night owl. Nope. I thrive at around 4pm. That's it. I love sleep. Anyone that knows me will agree. When I used to go out clubbing (just typing that sounds strange - i went clubbing...?) there would usually be a search party sent out at round 11pm. Where's Paula? One quick trip to the ladies and a bang on a few stalls would find me fast asleep on the loo.  As a child, always so quick to up the stairs and do my homework...absolutely...and get a quick nap in. At one of my best friend's 30th birthday meal so lovingly put on at her family home in Ireland I excused myself after dinner and was later found asleep in her bed. (To be fair there was jet lag involved in that one). 
I love sleep. The first thing I think every morning is not "wowzers, I cannot wait for this day to begin" but I will calculate how long it will be until I can sleep again. This gives my body a light at the end of the tunnel as i pull myself reluctantly from that beautiful, warm spot. Before you castigate me for such sloth like behaviour and long to tell me that i don't know the meaning of the word tired - I know. I've always known.  Look, some people like to salsa dance, i like to sleep.
Anyway, you can imagine the effect of having a baby on my favorite pastime. Those first few weeks were brutal. I did however, take to heart that advice about sleeping everytime the baby sleeps. Yep. You bet I did. Yes. Yes. Yes. No, i will not pick up the house, stack the dishwasher, make the bed (what's the point?) while the baby least until 5 weeks in. My little love has, I believe, also inherited her mother's love of sleep - Thank You God - I was terrified she would be like Tom -he is one of those bizarre folk who actually gets up when the alarm sounds. I, on the other hand would always set my alarm 30 minutes before i had to get up so my first thought could be - oh lovely, another 30 minutes.
So...with my birthday approaching, what would I like? Perfume? Jewellery? Make up? Underwear? Yes, yes, yes yes but No. I'll tell you what i want, what i really, really want, I want several hours of sleep where i don't have one ear cocked, where my heart isn't always beating slightly faster than usual, where i can wake up and instead of sprinting to a crying babe whilst pulling my hair back in a scraggy ponytail, I can just lie there and think. I can stretch in bed and turn to the nice cool spot of the pillow. I can drool like only a heavy midday nap will allow. I can sleep in nothing because I won't have to be prepared for anything.

Ahh, easy, no?  Except this teething babe is also experiencing separation anxiety so she is currently attached to my hip. That's why we have hips, ladies. I get it now. I don't remember teething but I remember toothache and it hurts. Hurts as much as earache and cystitis both of which were more painful that childbirth. So, right now I don't know if i can soothe her but i know that being with mummy (or daddy) certainly helps. Yes, I'm tired, so tired that yesterday I fell asleep on the playmat when we were doing tummy time. It was 2 minutes but it was glorious. I am well aware that I have nothing to complain about - i always think of single mums that have to clean toilets at night while their baby sleeps and then work buttering bread in a dirty sandwich shop during the day only getting to see their loved ones at rare intermissions. That helps. (Incidentally, here's a good one - If you are ever cold just think of the people on Titanic that were in the water at the end. That one always helps me...)
I know that this too shall pass - next week could be a completely different story but being back on the day and night shift a la teething Olive is making me a bit loopy. I packed an anti fungal cream in the diaper bag the other day instead of teething gel. You see, I'm a liability! Listen to me trying to justify this - do I sound terrible? I want someone to take my baby away for a morning so I can nap and NOT my husband because the time that the three of us spend together is my most cherished part of the week. However, and here's the kicker...if anyone but Tom took my Olive anywhere without me my heart probably wouldn't rest, I wouldn't relax. So, what to do? Suck it up. It's all part of the job. Just another realization that there is no motherhood chip to download after giving birth. I somehow thought that my love of sleep would pass and it did for awhile. I had adrenaline to get me through but adrenaline can only get a girl so far. Besides, at six months in, I'm sure other new mums want to take a break to go to a yoga class or to a cookery club or something...maybe i should start a sleep club? Have members pay dues and send group emails about naps and mattresses...stuff like that just to make it more legit. Because in a strange sort of way, new mums wear their tiredness like badges of honor.  Listen to them in coffee shops or at the park ..."I'm still functioning on 30 minutes of sleep over 3 days - Really? i haven't slept all week." Somehow this superhuman ability to still be a wonder mum on zero sleep escaped me. And, you are somehow made to feel lazy if you are caught catching up on sleep during the day. Yet knitting an ill sized hat or experimenting with a recipe while your child sleeps is yet another feather in your cap. I love being a wife and mother but that will never be me, not yet anyway...
I do wonder if when she's in her teens and wants to sleep in on the weekends if I'll become like every other parent and insist that she get up, that she's wasting a beautiful day outside and I'll pull the curtains and open the window? I doubt it. Right now, that's my light at the end of the tunnel. I wake up and i think 16 years, Paula, you can do it. Just 15 and a half more years and you are golden. I'll probably encourage a post breakfast nap till they go to college. 
For now, I'll tell myself that I'll sleep when I'm dead...which incidentally for other members of my sleep club is strangely a comfort should we contract a deadly disease. I'm just saying...


  1. Can childless women be in your sleep club too? I'm right there with ya sister. I tell ya what -I love my sleep so much that it was my greatest fear if we ever had kids. Seriously. I TOTALLY get it and think that 95% of the women out there do too - whether or not they want to admit it. ;)

  2. i consider it a hobby. i'm as passionate about sleep as somepeople are about sex in the city or manchester united. i thought i'd died and gone to heaven when i was at your house and you suggested we nap, as if it were a perfectly acceptable way to spend time with a friend, "we'll get a pedicure, gorge on sushi, nap, then go have dinner and drinks!" yeeesssss.

    i will say this. all the "good" parents will say this to you, "oh, you'll get to sleep when she's 18, but even then you won't sleep for worrying about her."

    BULL SHITE. for those of us who would sign up for sleep cruises, sleep parades, sleep hikes, sleep clubs, we are perfectly willing to have a lie in once the child is old enough to pour their own lucky charms and work the remote.

    the she-spawn actually opened a can of tuna and ate that along with some sunflower seeds for lunch one day while i slept. and it. was. glorioius.

    so don't worry... i promise, and i tell no tales... you don't have to wait as long as you think.

  3. I couldn't ask for a better Wife and Mother. I'm very lucky and I promise you a long and glorious sleep on Friday. Happy Birthday!

  4. I want a Sandals kind of break. Seriously. 10 days.

  5. I think that the birthday party that you mentioned in Ireland was actually a 25th birthday.......just saying!

    I'm loving your blog - a little cyber connection to your life that erases the thousands of miles between us :) Keep it coming.


  6. Thank you my wonderful son in law; I knew you would give her that present!
    If I could be with you on Friday, you could both have that present. Don't worry, when you are next in Florida it will be a belated present.
    Happy Birthday Paula, you are the best mum!!! xxx


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