Posted on March 8, 2015
If our household had a motto it would be: qui super omnia amatur somnus.
Above all else, sleep.
Our coat of arms would be two pillows crossed over an unmade bed.
We are a home of two adults who have a deep and abiding passion and love for sleep, a toddler who seems to hate sleeping at night with the fire of a thousand suns, and a newborn who is learning to sleep.
In the night-time wars what side will our newest human choose? Will he choose the light and literally wake at 5am every morning to meet the sun just like our oldest did for an entire year? Will he choose his own bed? Will he choose sleep? Unaccompanied? At night?
Our toddler is convinced that at night mummy and daddy get out his trains and have raging “Thomasdatankasian” parties. He thinks we get out the playdough and make really cool shit FOR HOURS. He thinks we play Zoom Zoom Zoom We’re Going To The Moon on repeat while taking turns lifting each other up and spinning around at the lift off part. If he sleeps, his patron saint Jay Laga’aia might turn up to personally sing him RockABye Your Bear and upon seeing him asleep promptly leave and never make another episode of Jay’s Jungle or Playschool again. So he must not sleep. Ever. And if he does, it must be with us. So that he knows we are not playing matchbox cars without him.
He has an excellent sense of humour. When he stays at Nanna’s house (we love nanna more than any one person could love any one thing) he puts himself to sleep at around seven or eight and sleeps in his own fucking bed for 13 fucking hours. We try to replicate the exact conditions but it does not fucking work. Short of moving in with her (which surprisingly she’s not keen on) we can’t get the same result.
She shows great sympathy for our predicament. She also never gives unsolicited advice. A kindness I will be thankful for for all of my sleepless eternity. After two years we don’t need anymore advice. But we still get it. Oh do we Get It.
I find the best way to cope with unsolicited, unwanted advice is to imagine stabbing the person giving it repeatedly in the face thousands of times. It makes you smile, which releases endorphins, which stops you actually stabbing the person.
When they smugly mutter “consistency is key” with their stupid smug mouth I imagine them being eaten by a shark.
“Show him who is boss”
“Tough love is key”
“Co-sleeping is the only way”
“If you do that he will never leave your bed”
“Use a night light”
“Put amber beads in a blender and give it to him each night with a chaser of nightwishshade oil”
“Draw a pentagram on the floor of your lounge, light eight candles, and sacrifice a virgin on a full moon”
Look, I promise you I’ve tried every type of ritualistic animal slaughter and worship of a deity there is – consistently. There’s only so many virgin blood cocktails I can drink.
So here’s what we do, consistently, we do the only thing that feels right for this hopefully short-lived period of our lives – we choose sleep over all else.
Each night we kiss each other in the hallway and that kiss says the following:
I hope you get sleep but mostly I hope I get sleep. And whoever gets the most sleep will carry us through the next day and remind us that we are a family that loves each other very much.
Then we go off to the trenches with a stoic nod of the head. He, a broken man, climbs awkwardly into the bunk bed. I get the easier (some nights) option and climb into our bed and snuggle with our newborn (he’s five weeks but I feel like he was born yesterday because there’s been so little sleep in those five weeks).
This is the path of less resistance. He isn’t woken by the newborn. This is pacifism in action. If he wakes he is comforted and settled by daddy. If that means not sleeping in his own bed – so be it. Sleep – wherever it happens – is all that matters. It won’t be forever but it feels a bit like forever.
We meet in the morning bleary eyed. He makes me a coffee. I squeeze his shoulder and cover the toddler’s face in smooches.
Our gorgeous, perfect, firecracker of a child, who gives us so much joy every day, who is every single kind of adorable, my gentle, hilarious, sweet and spirited boy, beams up at me:
“Is morning mama! I liddle sleeps! I seena jellyfush wif daddy. In my sleeps. We go BEESH? FOR SAN CARSULL? ON DA BEESH MAMA? FOR SAN CARSULL? Seen a SHAAARK MAMA HAHAHAHAHAHA BEESH NAO MAMA? DADDY BEESH? THES A BEER UN DEEEEEEA UNDA CHEEER US WULL DERA PEEPUL WEF GHEMS UNDA STORY TO TULL OPUN WHYYYYY CUMON SIIIIII IS PLAYSCHOOOO. BEESH mama? FOR JELLY FUSH? KINA KINA KINA KAI UN DA BASKUT….”
I catch my husband’s eye and we try not to laugh. I start to make another coffee. One for the road.
We’re going to the beach.