I’M SO TIRED

I feel like parents definitely need a designated couple of hours each day for napping. Most days when I’m not working and O is at playgroup, I very hopefully leave the bed unmade when I get up and tell myself I’ll have a nap while F is having his post-lunch snooze. But then the guilt creeps in and Ironing Mountain starts whispering to me from the kitchen while the floors scream in protest over not having been cleaned for two days and I know that mama is not having a nap today.

Adult nap time feels like it should be just something that you do when you become a parent. I’m not talking about going to bed with your significant other and making annoyed noises at him for an hour while he pesters you for nookie, which is what the phrase “adult nap time” seems to unintentionally imply. Like it’s some kind of euphemism for something else. No. I’m talking about climbing back into bed at 10am (or, frankly, any time of the day you get chance) when your small person or people are sleeping/at playgroup, nursery or school, ignoring the house as it hollers for the attention of a duster and Mr Sheen and falling blissfully unconscious for an hour or two. That’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

I remember when I first had O everyone took great delight in telling me that I should sleep when he slept, but the thing about newborns is that they’re pretty constant when they’re awake. They need feeding or changing or soothing pretty much all the time. And as they get a little older and start to take an interest in things, they need you to help them stay interested in a toy or a picture book because that’s your job. That’s what you do. So when they’re sleeping, sometimes it’s nice to do something for yourself, like reading a book or having a bath or spending a few minutes actually putting on make-up lest you should forget how. I read a lot of books while O was tiny and I was recovering from the discomfort of child birth. It was my escape from the total head fuckery of suddenly being wholly responsible for a tiny human and not being quite sure how I was going to manage that for the next 18 years without going crazy from worry. But what I didn’t do was sleep.

You make a lot of sacrifices when you decide to become a parent. As a mother, you’ve already sacrificed your once taut abdomen, probably your breasts for a good few months of feeding your baby and the ability to sneeze without crossing your legs and hoping for the best. Sleep is just another one of those sacrifices. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a guilt-free nap every day, a Bernard’s Watch* like two hours of blissful slumber while the world around you stopped completely and actually allowed you to tend to your ever-increasing sleep deprivation.

The thing I hear more than anything else when I talk to other parents about having children is how fucking tired we all are. At O’s playgroup I have regular chats with one of the dads about sleep deprivation. A few weeks ago I was just passing him on my way out from drop-off while he was talking to one of the play workers. “You know all about being tired too, don’t you?” He said, somewhat desperately, as I stopped beside him to let another mum in with her daughter. “Eurgh, God. YES,” I replied, feeling an immediate connection to and deep sympathy for this other sleep-deprived human. It’s a kind of parental joke, isn’t it? “How are you?” “Ugh. I’m so TIRED. The baby was wide awake at half three and I haven’t slept since.” “Oh, I know. I put my pants on with my eyes closed this morning. I was THAT TIRED. They’re probably inside out. In fact, I’m not even sure that they’re my pants, to be honest with you.” But being tired really isn’t all that funny. It’s actually a scientific fact – apparently – that you will die from lack of sleep before you die from starvation, which probably goes some way to explaining why all parents at some point feel so thoroughly exhausted and utterly drained that they genuinely come to believe they might be dying of some mysterious illness. That’s not just me, is it?

In the parenting world, we can disagree with each other about a lot of things. Schedules, feeding, co-sleeping… But tiredness is a unifying thing. Because we are all blundering around in a state of almost constant weariness. There are parents out there who will wax lyrical about Cherishing Every Moment. Cleaning up a porridge-plastered toddler? Joyous. Fishing shit out of the bath with bare hands? Wondrous. Cracked, sore, BLEEDING nipples? Fabulous. But if you ask them, “But are you TIRED?” they sort of shrug and say (with a smile that looks more like a grimace), “It’s just part of being a parent, isn’t it?” Because nobody likes being tired. Nobody feels like exhaustion is joyous, wondrous or fabulous. Being tired is fucking awful. Being tired while looking after children who never seem to be tired until they’re so far beyond tired that they melt down because you put them in the wrong pyjamas at bed time is nothing short of horrific. It’s like being asleep at the wheel of a tank; bad things will happen in moments of extreme sleep-deprivation because children have an amazing ability to destroy EVERYTHING when not adequately supervised.

I feel like we talk about being tired a lot. It sort of underpins every conversation we have with other parents. But we talk about it like it’s okay and we’re okay with it, because we know that it really is just part of being a parent. I used to think I knew what tiredness was. Sometimes I would go to work after not sleeping very well, sit at my desk (because I had a desk then) and think that I was tired. I was tired. But I wasn’t TIRED. Now I can’t really imagine not being tired. I can’t imagine waking up and bouncing out of bed and thinking how awake and alert I feel.

I think it’s probably okay to wish that I could just not be tired. I can desperately daydream about having more sleep and feeling less mind-numbingly exhausted and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love my children; it just means that I acknowledge how detrimental they are to my sleep and accept that I still have a lot of being tired ahead of me. Because hearing “MUUUUMMMMYYYYY!” at 6am after a particularly restless night is truly a horrible, terrible alarm clock. And, unlike an alarm clock, my children have no snooze button and no grasp of the fact that some mornings were made for staying in bed.

I think it’s time for coffee.

*Bernard’s Watch was a TV show I watched as a child about a kid called Bernard who had a magic watch that could stop time. His parents weren’t supposed to know about it, but I bet they secretly stole it sometimes and used it to have a nice, long nap.

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25 comments

  1. teachingtinyminds · April 12, 2016

    Yep…. “Being tired is fucking awful”, thank you for acknowledging it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mumzilla · April 12, 2016

    Yep, I’ve been tired for five…long…years. Will it ever end? I doubt it. My Mum says she still jackrabbits out of bed at the slightest noise even though her children are 35 and 33! Thanks so much for linking with the first #chucklemums xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · April 12, 2016

      My mom says she’s awake pretty much all night when my eldest stays over, imagining him shouting for her! Sometimes I wake up in the night and I’m not sure what’s woken me until one or other of my kids cries or yells, then I’m WIDE AWAKE. For the rest of the night. X

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fran @ Whinge Whinge Wine · April 12, 2016

    I could have written this, although probably not as well! Yes being tired is FUCKING AWFUL. Amen.

    #Chucklemums

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · April 12, 2016

      Sometimes when my friends who don’t have children yet say they are tired, I want to scream a little bit. Is that wrong?

      Like

  4. Mrs T (@SothisismeMrsT) · April 12, 2016

    so very true. Ive been tired since I was pregnant with my first in 2007. #chucklemums

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · April 12, 2016

      Yes! What is it about growing a human that is so bloody tiring? It’s hardly fair, especially since you get zero sleep towards the end because you are too fat and uncomfortable!

      Like

  5. motherhermit25 · April 13, 2016

    Yep! Totally agree! Been tired since pregnant with my first in 2013! Great post! Xx #BloggerClubUK

    Liked by 1 person

  6. islandliving365 · April 14, 2016

    Yep being tired is the worse. I feel really under the weather today, cold, shivery and sick and it is all because I feel so tired. Lack of sleep is the worst! #stayclassy

    Liked by 1 person

  7. whitecamellias · April 14, 2016

    I’m also tired all the time zzzzzzzzzz and I agree with scheduled daily naps. I love napping and before the I had kids napped all the time ­čśë #StayClassy

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Mum Project · April 14, 2016

    I nodded along to every word you have written on this page. YES. I used to think I was “tired” but now I am actually motha effin TIRED. I wish there was some solution. Bernard’s watch sounds magical. I think investing in a cleaner each week is step 1, which I did just last week. And step 2, is hiring some sort of person to just pop around for an hour or two and FORCE us (like being in the army or something) to sleep. “GET YOUR HEAD ON THAT PILLOW.” “Yes, sir!” I dunno. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy!

    Like

  9. Savannah (@HowHesRaised) · April 15, 2016

    Ugh, being tired is the absolute pits. It totally sucks, and I agree with all of this!! I used to think I was tired, but when your sleep is solely dependent on another little human who has no regard for you…well, that’s tired! When people without kids tell me their tired, I just roll my eyes. Ha #StayClassy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · April 15, 2016

      Yes! I do too! I have a friend who constantly tells me she’s tired and I’m like “mate, I’ve been tired for four years. Have a baby. THAT’S tired.”

      Like

  10. Mrs Tubbs · April 15, 2016

    Yes! We demand nap time for grown ups! And we demand it right now! Being tired is grim

    Liked by 1 person

  11. agentspitback · April 15, 2016

    Oh.my.goodness…Yes…I agree…being tired is part of being a parent. 6am? That’s quite good. Mine used to wake up the moment the sun rose – whether at 5 or 5.30am…or whenever. Thanks for sharing with #PasstheSauce

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Eurgh I hate it when my childless friends moan about being tired – I feel like screaming in their faces ‘you don’t know what tired is you……’ but polite society dictates I have to sympathise. What I want to do is real off the list of things I have had to achieve before 8am! Thanks for acknowledging the genuine tiredness that only being a parent can bring #brillblogposts

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · April 15, 2016

      Yep. That’s me too! Whenever my friends who don’t have kids moan that they got woken up at 3am or didn’t go to bed until 5am I want to grab hold of them, shake them and be like “you have no fucking idea what it’s like for that to be your life Every. Single. Night. SHUT UP!”

      Like

  13. Becky, Cuddle Fairy · April 19, 2016

    Sleep deprivation definitely is a unifying similarity among all parents! It’s not easy when you are in it, but when you look back, it seems like it was a short amount of time. Not that it’s any consolation to you now. Two of my three kids didn’t sleep until tey were in their 2’s so I feel your pain. Thanks so much for linking up with us at #bloggerclubuk x

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Momma Jones · April 20, 2016

    I love that you have a complete ‘Parent struggles’ section on your blog. Real beyond real.

    Groping blindly into the bedside cot in the middle of the night behind the black-out curtains you put up to keep British Summer Time outside, pushing your buggy around pavements all day just to keep yourself occupied without spending any money, realising halfway through a long car journey that your baby has wriggled out of her car seat belt. Treasuring those moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · April 20, 2016

      Those are the ones! In fact, I’ve just spent 3 hours pushing the stroller around to get myself and the little one some fresh air while the sun is shining! Only cost me the price of a cup of coffee and a slice of toast ;).

      Like

  15. Pingback: Stay Classy Link Party #8

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