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Undulating Perspective III: The Importance of Sleep

Hey, y’all.

As you know, I love May. It’s the best month.

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I’ve been feeling nostalgic about this tree we had in our front yard at the old house, as well as the apple and plum trees in the backyard. They smelled SO GOOD.
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But we do now have this lovely magnolia! It was blooming on my birthday.

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.

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(Here is the table set for my birthday! My parents and ALL my siblings showed up; dinner was made, dessert was perfect, there were flowers and artwork and so much cool stuff. I did love it… but I was definitely droopy.)

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.

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Happy Spring?

Hi lovelies,

It’s spring! Ha ha. Here in our city, we’ve had over 20 cm of snow this week. A few nights ago, we had a cozy wood fire in our fireplace (it’s finally drawing properly!), which was great but distinctly un-springy. ‘Twas the weather Christmas forgot to have. And then today… it was just muck falling from the sky.

Since the official start of spring, it has been weird around here. The weather is only part of it; poor E also got sick over Easter weekend with what I think was probably the flu – but it knocked him out for the better part of six days, which is very unusual for him. He slept so much that I barely saw him, and hardly ate a thing. He’s normally a pale kid, but he became positively ghostly.

This past season has been brutal for sickness, at least in our area. Teachers and students have been absent in what I’m sure are record numbers, and not just with the usual colds and stomach bugs. Lots of strep throat and pneumonia.

Between the maladies and the weather, I get a rather apocalyptic feeling. As if someday, the further-evolved survivors of our species will look back on this time period and shake their heads, intoning sorrowfully, “Hardly any of them saw it coming… They tried to warn the others, but nobody would listen…”

I know, I’m a ball of sunshine. Presumptuously morose for someone who hasn’t written anything worth posting in more than a month.

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This should do it.

Okay. Let’s lighten it up with some gratitude. Inspired by my friend H who is blogging happiness this year.

I’m currently grateful for:

  • E being back to normal, finally;
  • the school board-wide shutdown (due to ice!) on the first day E was sick so I could stay home with him;
  • my sisters and parents who have all helped so much where child care is concerned, especially in recent months;
  • my cat remembering (again) where he’s supposed to do his business;
  • having thoroughly cleaned and organized the basement rec room over the March break – it’s now so much easier to tidy up and SO much more fun to play in;
  • our “new” house slowly but surely becoming easier to live in as we organize, donate, and (re)arrange;
  • the springy weather we have had so far – because there were (once upon a time) some beautiful days that keep a body going even when the polar vortex follows;
  • gradually developing more productive habits – Sean and I are finally using our charts! Kind of… well, we are getting there;
  • getting ready for a family reunion in less than two weeks!!
  • AB bringing up the topic of gratitude at the dinner table the other night, asking if we could “play that game” where we tell each other what we “love about”;
  • my dear friend Skye who always notices when I’m not blogging and gently kicks my butt because she knows (better than I do, apparently) that it’s important.

So. You haven’t read the last of me. Thanks, as always, for reading. xoxo

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