Posted on May 23rd, 2016
As you know, I love May. It’s the best month.
This year, May has been tougher for our family than it usually is. I’m gonna tell you why for venting purposes, but you can skip this paragraph if you want. Blah blah: all four of us got a stomach bug at different times – brief but exhausting, especially because it was basically all night-time interruptions. AB and I also got a shared head cold that wiped out another few days (at least in terms of productivity). Before and in between those, we had quite a number of nights in which my same beloved daughter kept calling out in the night – either because she wanted help to go pee, or because she needed to pee but woke up with irrational iron-willed determination not to admit it, or because she dreamed about some insect or other in her bed, or because she needed her covers fixed. (We have discussed how she needs to fix her own covers, but when she forgets, I don’t know that until I’m already vertical.)
The result is that on Mother’s Day, I was in post-bug sleep almost the whole day, and was stupid-tired all over again on my birthday a few days later.
And then there were those couple days when it snowed. In my May. We won’t even discuss that.
This year, it’s also the month I needed to get record amounts of work done, due to two different absences from work (that I will be telling you about). However, I was so often in a state of exhaustion that I would think about all the work I had to do and feel simply incapable. Like parenting and teaching are too hard and I CAN’T HACK ‘EM. Like it’s all overwhelming and LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE.
And then, I got some proper sleep, finally – a couple of good sleeps in a row. And literally, the sun came out, the birds sang, the flowers bloomed before my eyes. ‘Twas amazing. Suddenly I realized I could do life after all.
I read Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive this past year, and she wrote a lot about how good sleep is crucial to human well-being. I was like, “Duh, of course it is,” because I’ve never been a rat-race participant, or possessed anything resembling a killer ambition that would motivate me to work 100-hour weeks at the expense of eating and sleeping.
But in actual fact, I’m less smart about sleep than I should be. I mean, it’s not my fault that the hundreds of interrupted nights of my early motherhood are still (intermittently) in progress. But I also have a habit that a lot of parents have: once the kids are finally in bed, I want to have that awake-time to myself, and I will stay up for it even if I’m tired. And then I miss my sleep window, just like a baby. I get a second wind of night-owlish energy that makes me lie awake once I do go to bed. I ignore, far more often than is advisable, my own tiredness – and I always regret it in the morning. It’s just dumb.
I know full well that I’m much better at everything when I’ve slept enough. What’s been particularly obvious to me recently is how much more patience I have after a decent sleep – and since both my jobs (the teaching and the parenting) require quite a bit of it, it’s no laughing matter if I’m running on fumes alone from my Tank o’ Patience. I’m bound to snap at my kids when they inevitably test me. My sense of humour leaves me. I’m just not that nice.
So now here I am on the Monday of Victoria Day long weekend, and the weather has been spectacular. Our whole neighbourhood smells like flowers. Sean had all three days off. Sean and I got to have a movie-date; there was river-side ice cream and park-playing; barbecue twice, and hanging out with sets of friends we don’t see enough. Basically perfect. And I’ve been able to see it all clearly, and really appreciate it, because of the sleep.
I’m really going to try harder to go to bed properly, like a good girl. It’s worth it.