Sleeping through the night (and other lies)
I was cuddling with my daughter the other night when she asked me what she was like as a baby. I told her the truth. “You were adorable,” I said. “And you never slept.”I’m not talking about normal infant behavior, when they finally, blissfully sleep through the night, at 6 months or so. I’m talking about five years of nightly interruptions. I’m talking severe sleep deprivation, folks. No deep REM stuff happening in my bed for five years. (Of course, my husband would wake up refreshed each day, shocked to hear that the baby had kept me awake so much. But that’s another column.)I take comfort, though, in the fact that I’m not alone. As a nation, we work more and sleep less than any other. Add crying babies to the mix and we have a recipe for disaster. More than half of working adults say that being sleepy interferes with their performance at work. Duh! Tell that to the dad who set the infant car seat on top of the car while he buckled the other kids – and then drove off. Or to the mom who tucked the baby in the backseat but then drove right past the day care and directly to her office, where the baby stayed until lunchtime. How about the kindergartner who was left at school until bedtime? I guess the little guy hung out with his teacher until mom and dad looked around the dinner table later that night and realized something was missing.A friend of mine, completely exhausted after a “vacation” with the kids (there’s an oxymoron for you), proceeded to pour an entire bag of lettuce into boiling water until her equally exhausted husband muttered, “Honey … you’re cooking our salad.”People, we are tired!Sleep deprivation is so inhumane it’s used as a form of torture to glean information from would-be spies. Spies who, if forced to choose between, say, rocking a crying baby for eight hours straight and telling the world where weapons of mass destruction are located, would blab every time.As for me, I finally trained my daughter so that if she were going to wake up, she should at least do it politely, coming to my room instead of screaming at me from hers.Now it’s like a military sneak attack. Instead of a far-off cry of “Mom-my” that gradually brings me to consciousness, she slips next to my bed in complete silence, gets right next to my sleeping face and whispers, “Mom.” More than once, I’ve knocked her to the ground.Believe me when I tell you, these late-night visits have made me look forward to rest with an almost psychotic craving. For example, after two long weeks of illnesses in my home, spanning the entire spring break and causing massive cabin fever, I was almost giddy Sunday evening at the thought of everyone finally going back to school. I got the kids up and ready, salivating at the thought of going back to bed when they were gone. Oh so cheerfully, I drove up to … an empty parking lot. Apparently I missed the memo saying school started the Tuesday after spring break. It’s safe to say I was among the 60 percent of adults who admit to DWDs (driving while drowsy). But at least I made it back home without falling asleep at the wheel.Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap. Charla Belinski is actually logging a few more hours of sleep these days and teaching the parenting class “Redirecting Children’s Behavior” in Aspen. For information on parenting programs, contact YouthZone at 920-5702 or 945-9300. Charla’s column runs every other Sunday in the Post Independent. Contact her at Belinskis@comcast.net.
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