Baby villains

James came into the kitchen first thing in the morning, rubbing his eyes, saying, “I had the veerdest (weirdest) dream.” He tilted his head to the side.  “It vas about babies pretending to be bad guys”.

I wanted to know more, but of course, as it goes with dreams, they crumble in your hands as you try to tell them.  It’s fruitless trying to pin words to those worlds that have their own logic, up can be down, death can mean life,  sound has no sound.  Babies can be menacing villains you are running from, the confusion still unsettling upon waking, the particulars receding from your grasp like the tide pulling out.

Since becoming a mother almost thirteen years ago, it is rare that I remember my dreams.  Nighttime marches to the persistent drone of I must get more sleep I must get more sleep I must get more sleep.  It’s my default setting now.   Even if I have gotten enough sleep, I’m like a child who grew up in Wartime, or in the 1930’s, forever stockpiling food, hiding cash under my mattress.  I’m still trying to catch up on sleep I missed out on while nursing babies through the night.

My relationship with sleep before was so casual, so thoughtless.  There was plenty to go around, catch up on, or even lose.  But then there were three rounds of not getting a full nights sleep for almost twelve months each time.  My babies were not the ones you hear about who sleep through the night at five weeks old.  Nope.  If I was doing something wrong, then I did it all three times.  And I was tired.  Bone tired.  Too tired.  Not well.  It’s a wonder to me that anyone allowed me behind the wheel of a car, much less in charge of little lives.  I lived to tell, as we all do, and now mostly, everyone stays asleep.  Unless someone’s sick, I can count on an uneventful night.  Though now, they’re up later. Somehow I thought they’d always go to bed at 7:30.

I do fear, though, that my relationship to sleep has been forever changed.  I anticipate in a few years I will enter the stage of sleeping-with-one-ear-open, waiting for teenagers to come in.  And I wonder, will I sleep soundly when they are off at college, in different cities, left to their own devices?  I’m thinking I will, that I will have undertaken the steps, one at a time, to releasing them into the world when they’re ready.  That I will, at some point, own my nights again.  That the psychic knots and body memories of exhaustion will loosen.  I am imagining a day I become untangled from thoughts of not enough sleep, and even, that I may dream vividly, and remember.

Images found here.  

6 thoughts on “Baby villains

  1. Like many moms, I have ears like a dog and hear everything, from a baby’s whimper to the sprinklers going on at 4 am. I know it will be many years before I get a good night’s sleep as I see my kids through their early years, beyond teen-dom and then some. I know it will be a long haul, but there’s hope. I’m often struck by how late my parents sleep when they visit our family. I guess we’ll get there… in 30 years.

  2. Erin, I love this post. I must have done the same things wrong because neither of my daughters slept through the night for a long, long time and the youngest still wakes up about once a night. I love your description of hoarding sleep, feeling as if there is never enough. I’ll hold to your vision of a future with better sleep. Cheers!

  3. I’m so with you. I think I’ll never sleep again. I’ve sort of accepted it. Upside–I get a lot of reading done! Baby #4 is almost seven months and still not sleeping through the night. But like you said, the other ones are up later now, or I worry about different things anyway at night.

  4. Love the idea of psychic knots….so well said. A friend literally painted her bedroom dark navy to get a good nights’ sleep. Still wondering when the under eye circles will go away, although I hear there is a makeup stick with caffeine in it to jump them out….how curious, caffeine on top of the skin, not inside the body……

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