If you know me well at all, you know that there’s nothing I love more than sleeping in. Maybe that makes me sound like a lazy, slothful woman but I may as well own it because it’s the honest-to-God truth. If you ask my husband about how much I love my sleep he’ll just shake his head and mutter something about how he’ll “never understand.”
He could never possibly understand though, because he has the terrible misfortune of being physically incapable of sleeping in. On the rare occasion that he can manage to keep his body down for more than 7 hours, it punishes him by waking him up with a terrible headache that lasts for half the day. He may actually be allergic to sleeping in. It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.
He’s not only up with the birds each day, but adding insult to injury, he also wakes with the proverbial sun shining out of his butt. I mean, really. He’s relentlessly cheery in the mornings. Don’t ask me about it or I’ll just shake my head and mutter something about how “I’ll never understand.”
If there’s anything I love as much as sleeping in, it’s a leisurely morning spent sipping coffee on the back porch with nothing on the agenda. It’s the exhilaration and freedom of asking myself “What do I want to do today?” As you can imagine, these mornings are rare and must be fully appreciated.
As a mom of littles, this was never a viable option because someone was always tugging on my arm at 5:50am needing their breakfast, or to be cuddled, or for me to defy all odds and find the exact right episode of Backyardigans.
But something strange has happened.
I am not a mom of littles anymore.
I’m not exactly sure when that changed, but I suspect it was both slowly and all at once.
Change can be tricky like that. Sometimes you aren’t aware of it until long after it’s crept in and shifted everything around. Kind of like the last time you rock them to sleep, or wash their hair in the bath while singing that same silly jingle, the only one that gets them to sit still; You don’t realize it was the last time until much, much later. Usually this realization is met with a pang of deep longing, the sort of achy nostalgia that makes your throat tight and your eyes teary.
But sometimes, sometimes, the change is downright delightful. Sometimes it sneaks in to the party, like the cool kid that no one expected to show up, and you are so freaking excited that you don’t want to acknowledge it, or say it out loud, or even breathe, for fear of jinxing it or scaring it off.
I am here to tell you that there is a silver lining to littles becoming bigs, and it is called SLEEP.
Glorious, uninterrupted, languorous sleep.
Sure, it comes with pre-pubescent awkwardness, stronger opinions, and all manner of scary and necessary conversations. Sure, you will yearn for a simpler time. You will fondly recall those years of diaper changes that turn into tickle fights, and nap times that stretch for hours; but let me be a voice of reason, calling to you from the other side.
It will all be okay! Because you will get sleep! And everyone knows that sleep helps literally everything.
We have entered the dawn of a new era over here and I am not mad about it at all. Not even one percent. The kids are now letting me sleep in on a regular basis and it is maybe (definitely) the biggest accomplishment of my life.
For the last two weeks, they’ve both woken up, dragged their favorite blankets downstairs, turned on a cartoon, and poured themselves cereal. They did nothing else. They did not come wake me up. They did not fight loudly with each other. They did not start a house-fire. They did not decide to experiment in the kitchen. They did not shave the dogs. All my fears now appear to have been irrational, because all they really did was snuggle each other on the couch until I stumbled down the stairs at 9 am in a sleep-drunk stupor.
You know that feeling when you sort of wake up, but then happily fall back asleep, only to wake in a cold sweat 15 minutes later because gratitude has suddenly shifted to fear?
Where are the children? Why hasn’t anyone woken me up? Has something terrible happened? Are they alive? Are they breathing? Why is it so quiet? Why does my clock appear to read 8:45am? That can’t be right. No, that’s definitely a lie.
Am I in a dream? Is this some parallel reality? If it is a dream, does that mean I already have a signed book contract and a completed manuscript that happens to be the perfect mix of depth and hilarity, just waiting for me on my computer? Will I float downstairs on a cloud to find my fridge stocked with Chipotle burritos? Is exercise easy and fun now? Do I no longer grow unwanted hair?
Hey, if we’re going with the dream scenario, I’m going to ride that wave okay? My point is, it’s kind of the same feeling you get the first time your baby sleeps through the night.
It’s glorious, but it feels like a trick.
It’s thrilling, yet disorienting in a way that’s tinged with fright.
In layman’s terms, it’s simply too good to be true.
I waited a while to mention this to you guys because I wasn’t sure it was real.
But it is real.
I repeat, this is not a drill.
This morning I woke up at 10:18am (don’t judge, it was a late night!) to find the kids hanging out in the living room, breakfast eaten, and bowls neatly stacked in the sink.
THEY WEREN’T EVEN WATCHING T.V.
They didn’t seem to need anything from me, so I kissed their foreheads, backed away slowly, and poured myself coffee. Then I sat on the back porch with a good book, my favorite Adirondack, and Souty at my feet for a solid thirty minutes.
WHAT EVEN IS LIFE?
I do not know. I really don’t. But I have finally seen, and now I believe.
Liberty is mine!
I share all of this with you, dear reader, not to brag, but to be a beacon of hope to all you moms and dads shuffling out of bed for that 2:00am feeding, feeling like you are the only soul awake on the planet (is it me or does everything feel much more dramatic when cloaked in the darkness of night?)
Hang in there, parents of littles. Your day is coming. I promise.
P.S. You guys are superheroes. Love you, mean it.