Anybody who has lived through those early days of parenthood (and let’s be totally forthright, here… those seasoned parents, too) knows exactly what extreme levels of sleep deprivation can do to our brains and our bodies. We swear we will not negotiate with a terrorist until that terrorist happens to be the tiny dictator that lives under our roof and is preventing us from doing exactly whatever it is we want to do: be it binge-watch a show, binge-drink a bottle of wine, or binge-sleep for a month straight. Suddenly, we find ourselves pleading with these little people of ours, bartering snacks, screen time, even cold, hard cash in exchange for an uninterrupted night of sleep. Before we win, though, while we’re still at the mercy of our kids’ insane sleep habits, we make monsters of ourselves.
1. Lower the style bar.
Oh, did you think I was bothered by the dried puke on my wool coat? Or that I perhaps didn’t even know it was there? I’ve been wearing the same hoodie for twelve days in a row now, and I just realized the reason why I’ve had wedgies all day is because my underwear is on backwards, so make no mistake: you have me confused with someone who’s got time to care about that.
2. Act like a lunatic.
My sister was about two seconds shy of sticking her baby in the fridge before she realized that she’d put the spinach on the play mat. I overheard my husband tell his dad on the phone that he was sitting on the TV watching the couch. We stick eggs and orange juice in the cabinets, we stick our house keys in the fridge, and we head out of the driveway with our coffee and wallet perched on the roof of the car. We’re far from rational beings when we’re deprived of precious sleep.
3. Hate our partners with the fire of a thousand suns.
You haven’t had a real fight until you’ve fought at 4 a.m. with your baby screaming in the next room. What might have been nothing more than a spat during rational daytime hours has instead reared its head as a relationship-ending, fury-filled mouthful of choice words for that person we love. Because in the moment, vitriol is coursing through our veins. How marriages make it through the night when there’s an infant in the house is beyond me.
We just cry. Then we cry a bit more when we’re finished with all of our crying. We cry because the baby’s crying, we cry because the sun has started setting, we cry because dinner smells so good, and we cry because we can’t stop. Emotions abound in extremes — but tears cascading down our faces will always accompany our responses, whether we’re feeling great love, deep joy, or despair that knows no bounds. Come visit, and bring a box of kleenex.
5. Swear we’ve lost our babies.
I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve shot out of bed in the middle of the night, convinced that my infant is tangled up in the sheets, swimming around in the duvet cover or trapped underneath my peacefully sleeping husband. I know for a fact that I was at some point earlier nursing that child of mine, but have no recollection of having put her back in her bassinet — ergo, she’s lost in a sea of bedding, never to be found again. Panic sets in before I thank God for that autopilot setting my brain has, the one that put her safely back where she belongs. Thanks, sleep deprivation. You make me loony.
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