In the middle of the night I hear his feet hit the floor. A light sleeper, I always know the minute one of my boys awakens. My brain reaches a state of semi-consciousness. My body goes into possum mode, hoping to fake slumber in case the door opens. Maybe, just maybe, my son will have mercy on me and choose to not wake me. He’ll look at me and think, “Oh, she looks so peaceful. I know she’s so tired. I’ll just let her rest.” Who am I kidding? What kid ever, anywhere, has had those thoughts?
I’m the sucker and they know it. They know not to bother their dad. Their greatest hope of getting what they want lies with me at three in the morning.
My foot hurts, will you rub it? (You can insert various other body parts here.)
Can you sing me one more song?
My eyes are itching.
You forgot my prayer. Oh, you didn’t? Can you say one more?
Help, I wet the bed!
My tummy feels sick.
Can I have another hug and kiss?
I threw up (double groan, although this one’s quite legit).
My nose is stuffy.
I’m too hot, too cold (just right, but I’m going to lie just so I can wake you up).
There’s a bug in my room.
I need more light. It’s too dark.
You didn’t check on me.
I need a drink of water.
I need to go to the bathroom.
And, my favorite, “I can’t sleep.” Well, thank you for allowing me to join your pain.
There seems to be no end in sight to the reasons for a child to get out of bed. When does this madness cease?
Really, the routine of getting them in bed in the first place is enough to drive even the most patient parent right over the edge of sanity. Those little boogers possess mad negotiating and filibuster-like skills. What should take 5 minutes evolves into at least 30 or more.
Son number one currently must be read to, have the night light turned on, closet doors closed, a bottle of ice water, alarm set, book on CD turned on, and the nest must be properly formed before the overhead light goes off. A mere kiss will not do. We do a head butt, hug, kiss, high five, and knuckles with a one, two, three, pow to finish off the spectacle.
Son number two must have a bottle of water, two songs: You Are My Sunshine and Bye Oh Baby, a specific prayer to ward off bad dreams, two night lights on, a book on CD started, and a hug and kiss. Yoggie must without fail be in the bed. Many nights we have searched the house over for that little critter, only because I know his presence at least increases the chance of a full night’s sleep for me.
I keep wondering when I will regularly sleep through the night again. When I will put them to bed and they will stay there without fail. But now that I inch toward those days, my body and its hormones begin to betray me. Insomnia periodically rears its ugly head in this 40-year-old body. Hot flashes awaken me and mock my slumber.
And as soon as I conquer this phase of my life, my boys will be teenagers and I will find myself waiting up at night to be sure they arrive home safely.
No one warned me of this aspect of parenting. It’s too late to cry foul. If you have children who never get up, I don’t want to hear about it. The rest of us will comfort each other and wallow in our perceived misery. Because, yes, I am well aware things could be much worse, but I would be more likely to believe that if I wasn’t so sleep deprived. (I exaggerate here…I really do know my experience could be worse.)
Oh, and one word of warning. If your child wants a loft bed, don’t do it. Changing the sheets on one of those beasts in the middle of the night compares to performing an advanced gymnastics routine; balancing on a ladder while ripping sheets off of the bed when your head feels groggy is not a road you want to travel.
All of this is just a little too fresh, and I’d like to end here so you can all cheer and feel justified in your disgust over your torment if you share this problem. But, my husband won’t let me. He insists I stick with my theme and find beauty in this nightly chaos.
So, here is the truth. Our souls long for others to accept and need us. We crave unconditional love. Parenting should epitomize this kind of love. All of these excuses/reasons for showing up at our bedside are mostly cries for reminders of our acceptance or demonstrations of our value to our children. And let’s face it, sometimes they are just acting like stinkers. But, I would take a million partially sleepless nights for the privilege of mothering these two precious boys. For all of the drain, I receive multiple times the joy.
I can only imagine how I would feel if my heart cries reached God in the middle of the night only to be met with a grumble, a groan, and a “go back to sleep.” Whatever problem we have or mess we’ve made, God will be there anxiously waiting without fail. Now that is something you can find true rest in!
So what is a delay tactic your child uses? Do you have a “getter-upper?” How do you cope? Did you do this to your parents as a kid? Tell me your stories.
Photo from sxc.hu