The featured image is my spirit picture.
It’s The Scream by Edvard Munch. Ed is quoted as saying that The Scream series was inspired by witnessing a fiery sunset and feeling that nature itself was screaming.
I think we all know that what really happened was that his wife returned from putting their kid back to bed for the tenth time in 30 minutes because they “just wanted to tell you something/needed a drink/needed the big girl toilet/need to give you a hug”. And old Ed was like, “Your face is so funny right now. Two secs, let me show you your face.” And so a masterpiece was born.*
Here are some fun facts:
- One in four married couples sleep in different beds. I bet if they dug into that a little, 99% of that one-in-four would quite like to sleep in the same bed as their significant other. They just don’t get the chance much.
- Sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation. I have no doubts about that. I may already be dead while I type this. I’m not sure.
You’ve probably figured that we’re having trouble with BC sleeping.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. She’s sleeping fine. She sleeps marvellously if her dad or I am sleeping next to her in her bed. She sleeps like a pro if she’s in our bed.
But she wakes up every night at 3am. And every night at 3am, I have the same internal monologue with myself: Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Was I such a terrible person in a past life that this torture has been heaped upon me? Was it my husband? It was my husband, wasn’t it? What did he do? Punish him. (Said husband is pretending to be asleep so that he doesn’t have to get out of bed. Or respond to the person standing next to him.)
By the way, while I’m on it, why do toddlers insist on creeping around like little murderers? I swear that, when I do get to sleep, I’m only actually half asleep, because the sound of tiny feet padding across my bedroom floor quite frankly scares the shit out of me. She appears. From nowhere. When I’m working, I sit with my back to the door, and she’ll suddenly materialize at my elbow. I’ve had to angle my laptop and chair to sit at 45 degrees to the door so that I can see the little psycho. And if I do manage to sleep through the sinister padding, I wake to find her face two inches from mine whispering “wake up, wake up, wake up”.
I fell asleep yesterday. At my desk. Watching a training video. I was like some stereotypical college student except I hadn’t been out partying all night.
I used to party all night. A cab ride at sunrise was a frequent occurrence. In fact, I even used to make stupid smug twat comments like, “having a child will be easy, I’m used to pulling all-nighters”. So, why is it so devastating not to get sleep now?
I think it’s because I kind of feel like I deserve sleep now. I spent my youth partying and not sleeping, because “you have a lifetime to sleep” (stupid smug twat). I spent my twenties accruing a massive sleep debt that I was confident would be repaid across the rest of my life… and now I’m faced with this. I am so maxed out. If I were a credit card, there would be a sharply-dressed waiter cutting me up right now in front of a snooty crowd of nosy onlookers, discreetly explaining that the bank has refused to authorise any more payments until the massive six-figure debt has been paid. It will never get paid, Garcon.
And you know what people say when you talk about not getting enough sleep?
“Ah. But do you have a lot of caffeine in the day? Do you drink a lot of coffee?”
Ohhhh, yeah, yeah, you could be righ…HELLO?!!? I JUST TOLD YOU I GOT 3.5 HOURS SLEEP LAST NIGHT! COFFEE IS THE ONLY LEGAL SUBSTANCE KEEPING ME UP RIGHT NOW!**
When we grab a coffee out here, my husband asks for extra shots in his cup. Now, this is New York, so already they run on a gazillion shots in a normal, regular-joe coffee. I think that if you can make a New Yorker say, “you want how many shots of espresso?!”, then you’ve succeeded in life. That was when I knew I had a keeper.
I’ve stopped wearing my Fitbit. It felt like it was taunting me. If you have a Fitbit Blaze, you get sleep insights: little nuggets of information like how many hours sleep you get, what sleep zone you’re in (deep sleep, light sleep, REM) and how long you’re in it for—that kind of thing.
And Fitbit is also super helpful at giving you tips on improvements you can make to get a better night’s sleep.
For example, “Did you know that the average adult gets seven hours sleep each night? You are currently getting less sleep than the average adult needs. Try getting more sleep each night. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make to your energy. Did you find this tip helpful?”
No. I didn’t. F*#k you, Fitbit.
Several times, at 3.04am, when I’m lying in my daughter’s bed hoping that she falls asleep before I do so that she hasn’t (once again) won this night-time battle, I have looked up whether it’s possible to die from lack of sleep. Short story. You can. Anyway, from the powers of WebMD, I also found out that there are some delightful side-effects to sleep deprivation. These include
- Reduced pain tolerance
- Sleep loss dumbs you down.
- An increase in serious health problems: heart failure, diabetes, the like.
- Sleepiness is depressing
- Lack of sleep ages your skin.
- Sleepiness makes you forgetful.
- Losing sleep makes you gain weight.
- And—(Here’s my favourite)—lack of sleep may increase risk of death
So now not only am I tired, but I’m also fat, look older, more likely to die, more prone to serious health problems, have zilch judgment. I’m depressed, forgetful, accident-prone, and stupid.
This is definitely my husband’s fault.
I kid you not; I think we’ve made a breakthrough. So, I started writing this post last week. On Wednesday, I gave up on life. I read B a bedtime story and then left her room. I bid her a good night and walked out, told her she could do what she likes and when she feels tired, she can take herself to bed.
She didn’t know what to do with herself. She sat on the floor for about 15 minutes, not daring to move in case this was some elaborate prank. I promise you; I’m not in the habit of pranking my child. But it did make me chuckle that she has such little faith in my character that she thought I might. Mum of the Year. Right here.
Anyway, I was in my office, and I could hear her playing. Every now and then she’d call me to ask me something important (“On my next birthday, can I have an Elsa party?”), or she’d stalk past my office door announcing that she was going to the big girl toilet, but “I don’t need you. I’m just telling you”. We had a couple of tears when she realised I meant business. And then silence. She was fast asleep.
Now this wasn’t as smooth sailing as it sounds here: her normal bedtime was 7pm. By the time she went to sleep it was 10pm. However! We had no 3am wake-up. We had a 5am wake-up, but that is like winning the lottery to me. And last night she was asleep by 8pm. And she appeared at 6am.
That’s a normal time. For normal people. Human people. Who function in a human people way.
I have no idea what happened to make her take this so seriously.
Maybe Father Christmas has some influence. (If you don’t sleep in your own bed, he will think you don’t live here. And he won’t come in if mummy or daddy are in your room because he doesn’t like grown-ups.) But hey, I have no qualms about lying squarely to BC’s face. It’s a tactic I have used many times—the car won’t start if you haven’t got a seatbelt on; the dummy bunny came and took your dummies away; I have no idea what happened to your sweets—and I’m sure I will continue to use it for many years to come.
Maybe it was that we showed her that she was old enough to take herself to bed, and therefore old enough to stay there?
Maybe I had been optimistically taking her to bed too early in the vain hope of having an evening.
Whatever it was, this week, we’re winning the battle. And we’ve popped several bottles of wine in our new-found freedom to celebrate. True, we haven’t yet adjusted to having a bed to ourselves, and we’re still sleeping on opposite edges, but hey. We’ll get there.
*Probably not true.
** I realise that this sounds like other substances are keeping me up that aren’t legal. This is also probably not true.