There is one subject that really gets parents locking horns through child rearing and that is the subject of sleep and tiredness. In fact, it is more of a point scoring, systematic competition based activity rather than a plain old boring subject for debate.
Myself and PB rarely get up together of a morning when BB wakes up in all his babbling glory. Inevitably, if we are both off work, one of us is called up to do the 2am nappy change and bottle assembly/Calpol administration for teething, cuddling, soothing etc so the 7am ‘Good Morning!’ grizzles and wake up call befall the person who slept through the night. On other nights, the person who is in charge of child care the following day does the entire night’s shifts so that the worker can get a good night’s sleep before the grindstone hits their nose.
On the occasions that one of us takes a double hit and does the whole night and day ‘shifts’, sometimes a few days in a row, that is when it can sometimes get rough. Leaving the other to have a glorious 10+ hours of pure, black out quality, blink and it’s gone, velvety, deep and enveloping sleep can leave you feeling resentful at times, even if they are working. To you and your sleep deprived, Cbeebie’d, baby babbled out state of mind, work seems like a holiday!
So, every now and then after one of us has done the sole caring for BB, night after night of sacrificing one’s own hours of slumber for the other to enjoy … the sleep debate starts and the Tiredness Competition begins.
Usually in the late afternoon, between the last nap of the day and dinnertime, energy has dwindled, everything is a mess and you just get overwhelmed with tiredness and resentment. Things usually go as follows:
‘Hi, how was your day?’
*sighs* ‘Long, how about you?’
‘Yeah long, I’m so tired…’
‘Yeah but I only had so and so hours of sleep… you had such and such hours…’
‘Yeah but I’m still tired…’
‘You got 10 hours of sleep whilst I only got 5 and I’ve done A,B and C today too so don’t even talk to me about tired! You don’t know what it’s like!’.
‘I’ve worked a so and so hour shift so I do know what it’s like!’
‘Yeah well I’m still on my shift!’ *motions to child* ‘I’m so tired, I don’t even know how to speak!’
‘Well I’m so tired, I don’t even know how to think!’.
And so it goes on.
Sleep is a commodity when you are a parent, or even if you aren’t. It’s just how it is. Without it, you can lose your mind, your patience and on bad days where I can’t even muster enough energy to brush my hair or shower, it can even steal your looks! Irrationality can take over and as soon as you manage to stock up on some zzzzz’s, you suddenly realise what an overacting pillock you’ve been. I often marvel at single mums, as even with the most supportive and hands on bloke in the world I still struggle at times. Single parents, I really do salute you!
The Tiredness Competition even finds its way into friendly discussion. It becomes a comparison of how many hours you’ve all got, if your little one sleeps through the whole night, if they nap during the day for umpteen hours… only this evening I got sucked in by social media when a page asked ‘What time did you get up this morning?’ and I felt rather smug by typing ‘7am’ in amongst the comments of the other poor souls who were up at 5, or even 4am. Karma can feel free to kick me in the arse for that one if she wishes…
So this post is a reminder, to myself and everyone else riding the parenthood waves. Stop clocking how many hours you ‘achieve’ as it is useless and irrelative. You are both tired, you are both working hard and you are doing a bloody good job all round. Be kind to each other, step out of the race and pat yourselves on the back. Roll with it, take the rough with the smooth and on the really horrid days, just remember that there will be a time where you can both slumber to your hearts content.
The shame of that is, it will be a time where you would give up your bed and sleep on nails, just to be able to cuddle your little world as they drift off to sleep. Life and it’s ironies eh?