Thursday, June 18, 2009

(Lack of) Sleep

For the past two years, I’ve been wondering one thing above all: Will I ever really sleep again? I don’t mean the typical eight hours a night. I don’t mean the occasional nap on Sunday afternoons. I don’t mean sleeping late during a weekend trip without the kid. I mean solid, lay-down-and-don’t-move-all-night, don’t-remember-your-dreams-because-you-were-so-dead-asleep sleep. New parents know that during the first year, sleep is pretty nonexistent. Single parents know that during the first few years, sleep is rare because of the load of other things that must be done and, being you’re the only one to do them, can only really be done when the kids are asleep. Single working parents know that sleep is simply a luxury. Since I fall into the final category, I’m worried that I may never sleep again!

Single parenting is all a juggling act. If you’re not a good juggler, you’re gonna suffer. Me, I have never been able to catch the balls. I wake at 5 a.m. with the baby (well, toddler now, but Kensie still won’t sleep much later than that), start my day by conceding to let Kensie get into my bed, fill a sippy cup with milk to soothe her while begging her to relax and close her eyes so I can get a few extra winks, finally resign myself to the fact that I may as well get up because she’s not falling for it, get Kensie dressed, get myself showered, dressed, and make-upped, gather the mounds of things I must carry to the car every morning, beg Kensie to “Please walk this morning, Baby, because Mommy doesn’t have enough hands to hold you, Baby Alex, the diaper bag, the lunch bag, my purse, my computer, BB, Bubba, and the sippy cup,” pack up the car and buckle K into the car seat, head to Nonna’s house (daycare) and drop K off, head to work but end up sitting in traffic for 20 extra minutes because the freeway is still under construction and has been for at least a year, arrive at work and finally enjoy a moment of quiet before the race begins, work hard all morning while looking forward to the 45 or so minutes I have to grab lunch and run any errands (Whole Foods, Target) that may be necessary to make it through the evening and next day unscathed, head back to work, eat lunch at my desk while perusing for my daily dose of (almost always very negative) news before getting back to the grind, work through the afternoon and into the evening, head to pick up K and end up sitting in even more traffic than that morning (sometimes taking nearly an hour to go 10 miles), pick up K, listen to the ABCs and Five Little Duckies songs (among some other choice children’s music) all the way home, unload all the things that took me so long to load that morning, head into the house to make dinner, make K’s lunch for the next day, wash sippie cups and plates and forks and spoons and bottles, bathe K, play with K, read bedtime stories with K, put K to bed, turn on the monitor (which I’ve been told it’s time to get rid of, but I’m struggling with that) and stuff it in my back pocket, head out to feed the dogs and cat, pour a glass of red wine, and plop down on the couch with my computer to begin the next part of my day: writing tomorrow’s blog entry. (This part of the day I really enjoy!) There’s really just little time for sleep in my world. My days are always overfilled, and when one day ends, the same routine looms heavy. Add a couple of other projects that I work on in the evenings and on weekends, including writing a children’s book and doing research for yet another project, and you see why I wake every morning feeling as if I’ve been plowed down by a truck!

My days can be broken into several zones: getting-ready-for-the-day time, driving time, workday time, after-workday time, Kensie time, planning-for-tomorrow time, me time, and sleep time. Sleep time is obviously at the end of this list, and it always depends on how effective my “time zones” have been working throughout the day (and on many outside influences, such as traffic, whether Kensie is into staying in the tub for a long time, whether it’s litter box night, whether I’ve gone to the gym or plan to go outside and get some exercise, whether I need to take some time to have a nervous breakdown, etc.). It’s been nearly two years since I had Makensie, and I still have not figured out how to effectively “schedule” my day so as to allow for enough sleep time. Like I said before, single parents know, especially after two years, that sleep is a luxury that may never be the same as it was in good ol’ days: summers when you were a kid, going outside and playing until dark, coming inside to a comforting meal, heading to bed at 8 p.m., sleeping soundly and quietly and restoratively, and waking to begin yet another day of leisure. Yes, those days are gone, but what I have to replace them are silly giggles; gentle kisses on my eyes and nose; cozy cuddles; big hugs after a long day at work; smooth, chubby hands holding onto mine; soft, blonde curls; a quiet head on my shoulder; a sweet voice saying “Mommy”—that’s my positive!