You know what I love about sleep? Nothing, really, because I can't remember what it feels like. I haven't had a solid night's sleep since my son was born. Well, actually, since I was 8 months pregnant and the constant interruptions from my bladder were like a cruel foreshadowing of what was to come.
I'll admit that at first, I let the lack of sleep really get me down. Like, ugly crying every day, deciding I wasn't cut out for this, daily Googling (whilst sobbing): "When will my infant sleep through the night," and wishing there was an "It Gets Better" project for first-time moms. (Is there? Could someone send me the link?)
Anyway, after more than a year of not sleeping, I have to say, I feel a lot better about the situation. In fact, I'm not even trying to change it. Sleep deprivation has been surprisingly enlightening. I feel bad for all the parents not experiencing it.
Like, if you had one of those babies I'm always hearing about that takes so well to being in prison (I mean the crib), or if you're one of those monsters (I mean, moms) I'm always reading about that made their kids cry it out -- I hate to be the one to tell you, but you're missing out.
I've heard that sleep deprivation can be used as a method of torture. Well, call me a masochist then. All those quiet, magical hours of nursing in the middle of the night have given me lots of time to think. I've realized that not only is sleep unnecessary, but you will be much more evolved without it. Here are 10 reasons why:
Parents: if you weren't drinking it before, you certainly are now, and how lucky for you. Coffee is the best thing ever discovered.
Next to my son -- though sometimes scarily close -- it is my reason for being, for breathing, and obviously for rising in the morning. The mere thought of coffee gets me through sleepless nights. The mere scent lifts me out of some pretty dark places.
My mother-in-law recently bought me a Keurig, and for a second, I mistook her for an angel and thought I might have been ascending into heaven. Perhaps that was a sleep-related hallucination.
But who needs sleep when you have coffee?
2. You can sleep when you're dead.
You've heard it before, right? "You can sleep when you're dead."
From those fun, free spirits who want to live while they're alive. Or from those those obnoxious over-achievers that make it look so easy.
Well, I'm starting to think these folks have got it all figured out.
They're trading in ZZZs for dolla signs. They are making BANK while we're all making a stank about getting our precious eight hours.
They know that time is money, money is time, and sleep is a great way to waste it.
So I'm going to make my all-nighters count. I've begun brainstorming while breastfeeding while everyone else in the world is sleeping, about how to become filthy rich.
The first step is believing.
3. You can earn mom cred.
Making mom friends can be a challenge. But I know a foolproof way to find your tribe:
Start co-sleeping and not sleeping.
It's that simple.
And I found this out by accident -- beginner's luck, I guess.
For extra measure, brag about how little you sleep, how much you love, and how much your child needs you.
Then skip gaily into the open arms of Mother Earth's crunchiest moms -- well at least those who can stand up (most are far too tired).
Bask in the warm, fuzzy support of your new Toms-wearing friends, and bake in the warm foul sweat of wearing your baby ALL the time.
Be mindful, and beware -- never utter the word, "self-soothe." Go green and be kind, or you will be kicked out.
You've already screwed up your kid's sleep - don't screw this up, too.
4. You can be yourself.
When you lose sleep, you lose your inhibitions, too. This is super helpful for a timid girl like me.
You know that critical period of time -- like 3 to 4 seconds -- that you have to think about what you're about to say after someone else has said something? Yeah, it's incredibly stressful (to be witty and charming always).
It's also a total non-issue when you're beyond the brink of exhaustion.
When you're so tired it feels like you're drowning, you don't think -- you don't even wait -- before opening your mouth. You spout out the first thing that comes to mind, no matter how awkward it is.
And you'd be surprised how awkward things can get, after months in isolation with a small human.
But that's OK. It's a blessing, really. By being your unfiltered self, you get to find out who you real friends are. (See #3 -- they're the only ones who understand me).
Once you have a baby, you discover that not everyone can hang.
5. You can relate better to your kids.
I'm a therapist -- no, really; I know everyone who's a good listener says that, but I have the student loans to prove it. So, I'm all about meeting people where they're at -- behind the preposition right? -- and that includes tiny people, like my son.
Little kids have limited attention spans. They can't concentrate on something for too long, or else their heads start spinning around like Linda Blair. I can so relate.
Lack of sleep has done a number on my cognitive functioning. My concentration and attention are not what they used to be.
But they are exactly what they need to be to keep up with my son. The child tears through his playroom like a teenage girl in Forever 21. He plays with every one of his toys for exactly one minute before moving on to the next, like he's sampling cheese (which he also loves to do -- a boy after my own heart).
Thanks to my fatigue-induced ADHD, I am right there with him with; we are on the same page (or rather we're not -- we fly through books like they're on fire).
"Mommy gets it, buddy. I am on your level."
6. You can express your anger.
I've always been the type to stuff down my anger, though it never goes away. It just manifests later in the form of tears after too many bottles of Two Buck Chuck.
But not sleeping can cause irritability and anger. Did you know that?
Bet you didn't. Don't even pretend you did. You are a SUCH AN EFFING LIAR!
Omigod, I'm sorry, that was my rage talking. I'm like a loose cannon these days.
The anger surfaces when I least expect it. It's hard to predict, impossible to control.
And let me confess -- it feels kinda good.
7. This is embarrassing, but I forgot what I was going to write.
It comes with the territory. (See #9).
8. You can enhance your relationships.
Did you know that sleep deprivation can impair your ability to interpret social cues and distinguish facial expressions, like happiness and anger. Crazy, right?
Handy, too. My husband gets heated from time to time because our son's still in our bed and I refuse to let him out (I mean -- to let him cry).
So he gives me books on sleep training and offers to find me a shrink. When I decline the above, he glares at me, but that's not what I see.
Looking into his stink eye, I see a happy man. Listening to him scoff, I hear laughter, I feel light. I don't even start a fight.
It's a win for everyone.
9. You can't remember anything.
Sleep deprivation impairs your memory. How convenient.
The baby was up every 45 minutes last night and you told your husband for the umpteenth time that you "JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!"
Funny, you can't remember.
You probably won't remember your labor either, or the cracked nipples, the colic, the mood swings, or the baby weight when you decide to push out number two.
10. You have something to look forward to.
Life sucks when you have nothing to look forward to. Fortunately for me, I never have that problem. Every day I look forward to the night that my son might sleep through until morning.
Don't get me wrong -- I don't want it to happen anytime soon. There is way too much to lose (See #'s 1 - 10; #7 will come to me).
But it sure is a nice thing to dream about... Not that I dream much anymore -- I think you have to get REM sleep to do that.
*Please note: Lack of sleep has not robbed me of my sarcasm (yet); I do not actually endorse not sleeping, nor do I promote or put down any one approach to parenting -- I think the best one is the one that works for you and your family. Besides, what do I know? I need a nap.