This Will Never End.
I’ve had my fair share of this feeling lately. If you live in the Northeastern United States, you understand. Houses look like they’re auditioning to be an extra in “Frozen” with icicles the size of big foam fingers dangling off every gutter. You can’t so much as drive your car in reverse without hearing the “crunch” sound of car bumper meeting up with mountain-of-aspiring-glacier-that’s-been-plowed-into-tremendous-piles-with-nowhere-to-go.
“Do we have school tomorrow? Please, can we have school?” my school-loving preschooler implores me with wide Bambi eyes. “I don’t know, it’s Thursday, we’ll see, go to sleep,” I snap. Who knows if we will have school on a given day Monday through Friday? Chances are: no.
Ah, “go to sleep.” See, that’s the other This Will Never End world. The first one is living at the epicenter of Snowmageddon. And the second is an interior perfect storm of three little girls under age 3. They are beautiful. They are sweet. And they really don’t seem to get it that when the door to their bedroom shuts, Mommy and Daddy want to be off duty. Way off duty. Like deep in REM sleep.
Every night, without fail, someone interrupts my “beauty sleep.” At this point, we can call it more of a “okay-looking nap.” Every night. EVERY NIGHT. And it feels like This Will Never End.
I love and appreciate these kids to the moon and back, and I’m sorry if I sound like I’m complaining–I knew when I signed up for the parenting thing that sleep was off the table. That being said, a good night’s sleep is really important, or so I’ve heard, to fend off the imminent collapse of your physical and emotional well-being. Without a good night’s sleep, you will age precipitously, your looks will deteriorate, your metabolism will slow down and you will spend the rest of your days as an incoherent, fat, non-blinking zombie. Well, color me undead.
The 2.5-year-old is in an in-between place right now. She likes to pee in the potty, but inexplicably prefers to poop in her pants. She wants a bed and underpants. When I tell her she has to poop in the potty for both of those things to happen, she says, “No thanks,” like I’m offering her a complimentary shoe shine or a refill on her coffee. (Maybe I should stop giving her coffee?) There is nothing quite like settling down to go to bed at 10:30 pm only to be terrified by a blood-curdling scream of “HELP! I HAVE BOOGIES IN MY NOSE! HELP!!!”
The 3.5-month-old baby demonstrated at 2 months that she was totally capable of sleeping through the night. But, like me bungee jumping over a cliff, just because something is possible is no guarantee that you’ll actually do it. Instead, the baby has decided that the middle of the night is a great time to wake up, suck languidly at a bottle, and then talk and talk happily in baby language until she gets really drowsy. Then to our relief, she gets put back in her bassinet. It is only after a parent takes two steps away from said bassinet that she lets out a huge, diaper-busting poop. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The 1.5-year-old is a little angel and sleeps through the night like a proverbial dream. Actually, we just turned her baby monitor off.
THIS WILL NEVER END. There are only so many broken, sleep-deprived nights you can truck through, only to wake up to snowed-in, 25 degree, can’t-play-outside days, before you start fantasizing about murdering Caillou with an ice pick.
The real truth, of course, is that my central thesis is fundamentally incorrect. Of course all of this stuff that feels oh-so-permanent will slowly come to an end.
Of course, one day, the tight fists of buds on branches will burst into flowers and leaves. Of course, one day, the world outside will go from white and cold to green and warm. Of course, one day, my children will take care of their own defecation needs, will put themselves to sleep, and will no longer scream for me to pick boogers out of their nose in the middle of the night. Of course.
Of course, one day, my children will opt to go to their own rooms and spaces and lives rather than cuddle up on my lap on the couch. Of course, one day, my children will yell, “I HATE YOU, MOM!” in fits of adolescent angst rather than telling me, “I love you, Mommy” while kissing me sweetly on the cheek after the eighth reading of “How to be a Pirate.” Of course. It’s fairly incomprehensible right now, but of course.
The best parenting advice I ever heard was written by a mother of 10 children. (Yeah, you read that right: 10!). And it was very simple: just try to find the joy in everything, because that is the point of all this.
And it’s easier–and, yet, achingly harder–to get through anything with joy when you realize this all will end. It will inevitably all go away sooner than you’d think.