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It had to happen. I knew at some point I’d break down and write about the “S” word, because the utter lack of it is a theme common to most (all?) new parents. It’s absence hovers over us, a constant grey cloud, reminding us of a time when things were much more simple, a time when it wasn’t so hard to obtain. For 16 months and 11 days I’ve waited patiently, obsessing over my desire for it. I’ve tried everything to bring it back into my life. I’ve read books, spent countless dollars on specialty clothing, purchased hours of tailor-made music designed to help set the mood. Recently I’ve taken to incorporating aromatherapy into the bedroom, out of sheer desperation to find something that works. Each night, I go through the same routine, hoping that this night, this one night, it will happen, because I need it. “Oh please, please little baby. Please just sleep.”
Truthfully, I’ve been on the fence about writing anything regarding sleep. When you are so sleep deprived it takes you 30 seconds to figure out which end of the shampoo bottle shampoo comes out of (true story), it is hard to put anything together that doesn’t just sound horribly whiny. Also, there are already people who have done it, and done it very well (for those of you who don’t already know the blog How To Survive A Sleep Thief, check out the post I’m referring to here; it is brilliantly funny, and perfectly sums up everything I wish I could say about living with a kid who doesn’t sleep, but can’t because it took me 30 seconds to figure out which end shampoo came out of).
So what made me do it? Well, for starters, I’m delusional. With tiredness. Because the last time I slept through the night was back when the words “North West” and “One Direction” referred to parts of a map, rather than a bagillionaire toddler, and a handful of post-pubescent weasel boys ruining music. And lately, little Baby 1.0 has decided that getting up 2-3 times in the night wasn’t enough, and has increased it back up to 5 times. 5. Times. A. Night. Little reminder, she is 16 months. Being plunged back into the thick of what is essentially newborn level of sleep deprivation, I am reminded of a few things:
1. Removing regular sleep from your routine changes who you are on a fundamental level. For example, I turn into a crazy asshole when I don’t sleep. Like, seriously, a totally crazy asshole. Case and point? This morning, after another absolutely brutal night, I spent no less than 12 minutes hunting down a fruit fly who landed innocently on my arm, and when I finally got it, I smashed it with a smile on my face, like some kind of insect serial killer. Did I have to invest 12 minutes of time in hunting down a solitary fruit fly? No. Did I have to smile when I killed it? Big time no. But No-Sleep-Emily is currently the captain of this ship, and she is a scary asshole.
2. When I don’t sleep, my mind turns into a garbage disposal of thoughts which A) immobilize me, preventing me from completing any kind of task, further perpetuating my garbage disposal tendencies, and B) keeps me from falling back asleep. Usually, somewhere around 3am after Baby 1.0 wakes up for the umpteenth time, my mind does this: I need to go to the store and get dinner food. We need to eat healthier. I need to buy more vegetables. I need to buy organic. Organic is too expensive. I need to get a job. I don’t want to have someone raise Baby 1.0. I need to socialize Baby 1.0 more. I NEED TO STOP THIS. I will count until I fall asleep. 1, 2, 3, 13, purple, I need to email every single person I know, urgently. I need to clean out my email inbox. I need to vacuum. I need to clean out the litter box. I need to order cat litter. I need to order cat food… AND IT GOES ON AND ON.
3. Being horribly, hideously, sleep deprived makes me feel like I have the worst hangover of my life, but nothing makes it go away. Well I can’t say nothing, because I have a sneaking suspicion a couple of vodka tonics would do the trick, but I haven’t entered that territory since my bachelorette party where I peed (basically) in the doorway of a Walgreen’s, while leaning up against a newspaper box. My head aches, my eyes burn, my muscles are weak, my stomach hurts. I can’t help but wonder if hardcore sleep deprivation is used against spies and terrorists to break their spirit. Let me just say, I would tell someone anything they wanted to know if that meant I could start sleeping through the night again. Update: just this morning there was a news story about how the CIA used sleep deprivation against suspected terrorists. I’m not condoning torture in any way, even though I am being tortured, and misery loves company.
4. I hate nighttime. The more sleep deprived I get, the more I dread going to bed. It’s one thing to bump along during the day, feeling crappy, but having things to distract you from the crappiness, and another to be forced out of bed for hours of the night trying, in vain, to convince another human to do something they have no interest in doing. It is frustrating on a level I still can’t wrap my head around, and more depressing than watching one of those science programs that always shows the baby deer being hunted by a wolf. Stop with that. We get it. Wolves eat baby deer.
5. Lastly, this has served as a reminder that this is hard. This is hard, man. Not always, but sometimes, and sometimes for long chunks of time. It is hard to be patient and kind when you feel like a rabid raccoon. It is hard to be empathetic and understanding when all you can think about is the burning behind your eyes, and the heaviness in your limbs. Forget being the perfect mom. When you are bone tired, it’s all you can do to remember to put on two shoes that maybe match. So the next time some little turd kid rips a toy out of my little dumpling’s hand, and their mom just stares blankly ahead, I will try to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s just tired. I get that.
Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf. It should be noted that these reviews are highly sarcastic, and in no way, shape or form should be taken seriously. I appreciate the effort anyone puts into writing a book, unless of course you’ve written a terrible book, in which case I will shame you publicly.
This week we are reviewing a book from the old classic Curious George series, Curious George and the Puppies. While I’m not sure about the popularity of this specific book, I can say it’s pretty popular in our house because it has pictures of dogs, which Baby 1.0 is currently absolutely obsessed with. Case and point, the following picture of Baby 1.0 walking her plastic dog at the park yesterday.
Curious George and the Puppies appears to be by Margret and H.A. Rey, although it was copyrighted in 1998, two years after her death, and 20 years after her husband’s death. I don’t know, maybe they had a ghost writer (get it, a ghost writer? Okay, I’ll stop)?
The book is your typical Curious George outline: Clueless man in strangely large yellow hat takes George out to do something mundane, forgets he is hanging out with a MONKEY, and trusts him to do something totally ridiculous. This begs the question, who is this man, and why is he treating this monkey like a child? A little googling will tell you George was captured by the man with the yellow hat, and taken across the ocean to go live in a zoo. Obviously, somewhere along their trip, the man with the yellow hat must have started feeling exceedingly guilty, hence his proclivity to let George now do whatever he wants, allowing him to behave like an ill-mannered tyrant completely unchecked. Typical modern day parent if I’ve ever seen one.
In this particular adventure, George and the man with the yellow hat go to the park and find a kitten. They decide to take the kitten to the animal shelter, which fits the typical pattern of behavior for the man with the yellow hat; find animal, put it in a cage. They bring the kitten to the shelter, where they are greeted outside by the director of the shelter like they are bringing a six-figure donation, rather than a single kitten. Because if there’s one thing animal shelters need more of, it’s kittens, said no animal shelter ever.
The man with the yellow hat tells George to hang out, alone, while he and the director “sign some paperwork” in her office with the door closed. Obviously they are boning. There is literally no other possible explanation.
George takes this opportunity to wreck shop. He ignores his instructions to “stay here and don’t be too curious,” and opens up a cage with 11 puppies, who then escape and terrorize all the animals. This interrupts the man with the yellow hat and the director, who emerge from the office with genuine looks of surprise to discover a monkey, left alone in an animal shelter, has caused mischief.
In the end, George is the hero because after he let all the puppies out, they led the director to the missing puppy, which I haven’t mentioned until this moment. There was one puppy who was missing. Spoiler alert: they found it. Then, perhaps being inspired by the true story of Koko and the Kitten, George adopts one of the puppies.
So there you have it. Baby 1.0 loves this book, and can sit through most of it most of the time, which says a lot because it’s 24 pages. I may be kind of a sucker for dogs, too, so I’m going to give it a 3.1/5.
Trapped George: http://mentalfloss.com/sites/default/legacy/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/hat.jpg
Cover image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BFpR8zkhL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
We’ve all been there. You’re at the park, quietly watching your little while they play calmly in the sandbox with a broken shovel and a pine cone. From the corner of your eye, you see her approach, her seasonally appropriate attire clean and cute, her hair in a suspiciously full, yet contained top knot. In a moment of panic, you look down at your own outfit, and discover a dried out macaroni noodle stuck to your sweater in the exact location of your nipple. You manage to remove it just before she gets there, and breathe a temporary sigh of relief, but dread washes over you as you see the bright yellow semi-circle the noodle has left behind, creating a rather convincing “friendly cyclops” effect on your right boob.
She delicately arranges herself on the edge of the sandbox, reusable coffee cup in one manicured hand, eco-friendly, gender neutral, Montessori toy in the other. And then, as if coming straight from a Hannah Andersson magazine shoot, in toddles the perfect toddler. This toddler is wearing matching everything, and unlike your child, they don’t have walrus-like tusks of snot hanging off their face. They enter the sandbox, and in the distance you hear the faint, but distinct, sound of bells signaling the start of round one.
For a few seconds, nothing happens, and you think “Maybe this is the nanny? Oh please be the nanny…” But this thought is interrupted by the seemingly innocent complement/question one-two punch, “She is so cute! How old is she?” And it begins. For those of you who don’t yet have kids, this seems so harmless. “She’s just being nice!” you may say. But really, like a raptor testing the fence, she’s just found her way in. “She’s 15 months,” you reply. And then because you don’t want to come off like the ogre you feel like, you reply with “I love your daughter’s shoes. How old is she?” Here’s where it gets serious. Secretly you are hoping and praying her kid is at least 6 months older. Look at the way she scoops the sand, and dumps it in to the bucket with such accuracy! And did she just speak in full sentences? She has to be at least 22 months. “My little angel is 14 months!” she says, confirming your worst fears.
From here it gets ugly quick. You discover that her little princess started sleeping through the night at 2 months, and continues to do so, in her own bed. She sat up at 3 months. She crawled at 5 months. She walked at 8 months. She is basically potty trained. She speaks three languages, not including sign language, which she can also do comfortably. It is after finding out she saved the preschool hamster by giving it the Heimlich that you look over at your own offspring, and discover they are currently chewing on a sand-covered apple core they’ve just unearthed.
Before you get too down on yourself, let’s pump the brakes on this train wreck and put things in perspective. It’s horribly cliché to say “every baby is different,” but it’s the most simple way to put something that is, quite simply, the truth.
I find myself getting caught up in this nonsense still, when some over-achieving wonder-tot spits some crazy toddler knowledge at Baby 1.0 and me. Just this weekend, we shared the sandbox with an 18 month old who could speak in full sentences (we actually witnessed it), and according to his mom, could read. Baby 1.0 doesn’t even really have a word yet, and while she knows what the word “nose” is, she can actually only locate it on my face maybe 60% of the time (for the record, my nose is in the standard location, midway between both ears, on the front of my face). But instead of (me) pooping in the sandbox and going home and ordering the entire Baby Einstein series off Amazon in a panic, which I considered, my husband and I just shrugged and told ourselves, “Every baby is different. She will get there.”
These comparisons are often not malicious, as I too, find myself wondering how Baby 1.0 stacks up against the average toddler. But sometimes they sure can feel that way. My guess is I’m not alone in feeling judged, or in all honesty, judging every once in a while (every day). Our babies are like our own little 4H projects, and just like when the judge comes to your stall and points out your cow has a googly eye, you feel like you need to compensate and tell him all about how, googly eye and all, your magnificent cow is able to sweep the barn if you attach the special sweeping mitts you made to her feet. Maybe this hasn’t happened to anybody else, but you get the point. Every baby has their downfalls, but I’ll be damned if there aren’t 10 things that make up for that downfall.
I think for my own sanity, I need to replace the question “is my baby is better?” with the acknowledgement that “every baby is different” more readily. I should make it my mantra, and carry it with me, probably for the rest of my life. I can only imagine these comparisons continue, in some degree, forever.