Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Seasonal Sleeplessness

I got an email this week from a friend asking me for some advice on getting her baby to sleep. It was hard not to laugh hysterically.

Let's put it this way: Bee has been having an hour or two of middle of the night wake time almost every night lately; Bruiser woke up at 430 this morning...and never went back to sleep; I found Tiny in the kitchen at 5am yesterday painting with food coloring (no lie: all we have left now is yellow); and Littles was up coughing 5 consecutive nights last week. And if it's not one of the kids, Oswald has somehow gotten ahold of a plastic straw from pizza-smoothie-and-a-movie night, carried it upstairs, and proceeded to play with it all night long on our bedroom floor. For once, Trigger is the only one behaving himself.

I love my children. And the pets...for the most part. But I dream about what it would be like to crawl in between clean, cool sheets and stay there all night, waking up with time for a cup of coffee, a shower, and the chance to blink the sleep out of my eyes before our typical mass chaos ensues.

It's hard, sometimes, to not wish the sleepless nights away. It's hard to understand what the point is. It's hard not to get frustrated: at the twins for not sleeping the way I think they should, at the boys for being loud and waking the twins up, even sometimes at God for not making this all a little bit easier. I'm grateful that He's gracious with my whining.

I remind myself that it's a season, but sometimes seasons last a long time. Well, I suppose "long" is relative. I'll get back to that later.

Then this week, the Little Man learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. I don't feel old enough for that. I stood on the porch watching him pedal furiously down the sidewalk while the Man ran beside him, and I realized that he can now tie his shoes, read (for the most part), make his own bed and his own lunch, go to the bathroom without help, and provide his own form of transportation. All the Man and I have left to do is teach him how to do laundry, help him find a job, and kick him out of the house.

This is the flip side of that whole seasonal thing. We want to put the brakes on one aspect of life and fast forward through others. Why doesn't it work that way?

The challenge for me is to open my hand and relinquish control. No... I never really had much control. Maybe what I need to let go of is the idea that control is an option at all. The kids are going to grow up: nothing I can do about that. And if I could, I probably wouldn't really want to. Probably. The kids are going to sleep or not sleep: again, nothing I can do about that...except possibly take out stock in coffee, because I am going to need it.

Perhaps the whole seasonal thing and the whole lack of control thing go hand in hand.

I didn't grow up with seasons in the traditional sense. We had rainy season and dry season. Most of the time, the months that had the letter R in them meant rainy season. Nothing too exciting there.

But the seasons in the U.S. help me learn the fun of anticipation coupled by the need to enjoy the present. No matter how much we look forward to spring, we can still enjoy the beauty of the last snowfall of winter. And no matter how sick we are of frigid winds and frostbitten cheeks, we can't make spring come any more quickly.

Sometimes when well meaning people inform me that "it's a season", I just want to kick them in the face. Of course it's a season! Could you say anything more obvious?

But my babies are all gangly legs and well-executed eye rolls and independence, and I haven't slept in days (okay, that's an exaggeration: I do get the occasional decent night of sleep, and the Man covered things for me today so I could take a nap), and I can't decide if things need to speed up or slow down...

...and that's okay.

That's the beauty of letting go of the illusion of control. The God who grants sleep to those He loves (and grants lots of middle of the night, groggy baby snuggles as well) is the same God to whom a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. So yeah, it's a season to Him too.

We hang in there together. I do my best to enjoy every moment, or at the very least grudgingly tolerate the ones I could do without, knowing that I'm going to miss those pudgy baby cheeks and the way the boys want me to watch every single thing they do, knowing that there are things I can change (like my attitude) and things that I can't (like, well, pretty much everything else), knowing that "it only lasts so long" can be both a promise and a reminder.

Anyway, one more thing I'm putting in the seasonal category: having people compliment me on my four boys. One day, Bee will have hair, and we can put that one to rest. In the meantime, hello? She's wearing a dress, people!


  1. I do too! And I like that you used the photo of the twans again. It is too cute. Hope that you are getting more sleep this week.