My whole life (no exaggeration), I've been a night owl. By the time I was three I was rolling out of bed and into the living room saying, "I wanna see my good friend Mr. Paul Shaffer!". After Letterman sleepy time would hit, and just as I would start to settle down, my father would come home from second shift and start clinking the ice cream scoop in the bowl and I was ready to get back up and see what he was doing. The sleep(less) cycle continued until I was four and my mother gave up trying to get me to go to sleep at a decent hour. This was when she implemented a new rule- if I was going to be awake after bedtime, I couldn't play with my toys or go out in the living room. The only thing I was allowed to do was read. "But Mom, I don't know how to read!"..."Then I guess you'll learn, won't you?"
After about three months of index cards with simple words and Dr. Suess, I learned how to read. So of course I just ended up staying up until time to go to school reading. This kind of became the setting for the rest of my life and I've never been able to sleep at a normal time like most people. Being a natural second-shifter wasn't so bad when I was younger, single, and childless and had all the time in the world to be up all hours of the night doing whatever I wanted and sleeping in til 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Then adulthood struck all at once when I got pregnant four months after our wedding with my first child while working a first-shift office job I had gotten one month after getting married. I had almost adjusted to the normal life when that first trimester exhaustion kicked in. But I pushed through it, had a beautiful baby girl, and went back to work. What I was NOT prepared for was how exhausting it would be trying to get up at a time when my body wants to get its heaviest sleep, figure out how to fit pumping (I breastfed for the first three months) into my work day, commute an hour each way for work, cook dinner, take care of my baby and my husband, find time to shower, and sleep for a minute. Although not in the way we wanted, my husband and I were blessed that he was out of work and home with our daughter for the first two years of her life so that I could lean on him to take the brunt of this transition.
In the midst of trying to keep interest in my job (I wanted nothing more than to be home with my baby), I managed to get pregnant with our second daughter, our first being 18 months at the time. This time, my body didn't fight so well and I ended up practically sleeping away the first two trimesters. By third trimester I went out on leave and that's when my body's old habits crept back in...first it was bedtime at midnight. Then it extended to 1:30, and next thing I knew it was 3am, 4am, and eventually, falling asleep at sunrise. Now this is pretty common for pregnant women in the third trimester to have a ridiculous time trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, or the nesting hormones making us crazy to the point of scrubbing baseboards or baking way too much in the middle of the night. I genuinely thought that my first shift habit would come back once daughter #2 arrived and the world would return back to normal. Oh, but no, I was beyond wrong. Daughter #2 is now five months old and here I am at 4 in the morning, writing. Needless to say, newborn baby with days/nights mixed up + high pressure job + wonky sleep schedule = Laura quitting job to stay home with children. Epic. Fail.
To those women who have the ability to work all the way up until delivery, come back to work six weeks later, make dinner every night, keep their house clean, do the grocery shopping, and make time for their family, I salute you. You must have nerves of steel/magical powers, and I am jealous. Apparently, I am as soft as sour cream and can't do that many things at once all the time, so I just do as much as I can. This is how my week usually goes:
- Watch 2 year old and baby all day, make sure no one gets poop on their foot while changing or gets hungry enough to throw something
- Do laundry when I realize I'm almost out of receiving blankets (for burping) or bibs
- Pop in a kids' dvd long enough to allow me to make a pit stop, load the dishwasher, and think about finding something to eat
- Give most of my meal to my two year old (after she abandons what I just gave her to eat)
- Convince 2 year old to wipe her face with a diaper wipe before the food becomes a cement mustache on her face
- Wait on hubs to come home, figure out supper, cook while 2 year old clings to my leg, crying "UP!"
The list goes on an on. By the time everyone is in bed and the house is quiet, I am so appreciative of the silence that I can't seem to get myself in bed at a decent time. And of course I finally get to bed and am dozing off when I hear the dreaded yelp of the baby over the monitor. Here starts my night, getting in and out of bed a zillion times to replace the dropped paci, cover up the child after she kicked all her blanket off and is now cold, feed her, and hope she doesn't poop in the middle of the night so I don't have to get up any extra times. Who are these superheroes dressed like moms in the ads that seems to always have a perfectly clean house, a perfectly balanced gourmet meal on the table, quiet children, and every surface of their kitchen perpetually sanitized? I have yet to meet any of these women and refuse to believe that this image is the norm. I prefer to accept that my daily life is much more realistic of most parents, and that's what this blog is all about.