This morning as we carpooled to work a little earlier than usual, the bags under my eyes practically resting on my lap and my newly colored roots looking a bit greasy, I wondered if I’d ever sleep again. I sat there in a trance while the kids pointed out the everyday sights. Seth glanced in my direction and then asked, “What’s wrong? Just irritated?”
I irritatedly wondered if that had that become our slang for “I’m fucking tired”. Because let’s face it, we’re past the state of simply being tired. That’s what high schoolers are when they go to bed a little late because of the game the night before, that’s what college students are when they’ve been up late working on a final essay or gone out until 4:00am. Fucking tired is what parents are when they haven’t gotten five consecutive nights of relaxing, restful sleep in 4+ years. Fucking tired is having nothing to complain about because exhaustion has become your normal state. You wonder, “Maybe I’m not tired, maybe I’m just irritable today.” Fucking tired is having the bags under your eyes droop so low they nearly rest on your lap while you drive to work, when you’re not sure if you’re awake or asleep because they feel the same.
I nodded. Just irritated. My mind reeled through all of my friends who had kids and I wondered how they always seemed so well-rested. I know their kids crawl into their beds and cough warm, stale breath into their faces. I know their kids have accidents in the middle of the night and wake up whimpering and screaming they need a new blanket. I know their kids wake up with fevers and can’t be consoled. I know their kids climb into their beds for no reason at all and stretch and contort their bodies to take up as much space as possible in the middle of the night.
They’re good at hiding it. Maybe I am too, sometimes.
Do I talk about sleep too much? I probably do. It’s become like currency, I can never have too much and always have too little.
Last night, as I went to bed, I tried to convince Seth to stay a little longer in the living room, hoping he would fall asleep watching TV like he sometimes does. Even in the darkest of nights, the boys will seek him out before they do me – whether in bed or on the couch – and snuggle with him until the sun comes up. He’s always warm and that works to my advantage. But only when he happens to fall asleep on the couch.
He knew exactly what I was doing. My plan backfired. We laughed about it and then he offered to sleep on the couch.
“No, just come to bed.”
“No, I can sleep here. Shut the light off.”
“No, just come to bed because we’ll all get better sleep there anyway.”
And so he did. Because if there’s anything worse than being an exhausted parent, it’s being an exhausted parent with two tired and brutally grouchy kids.
But forget I even said anything, I’m just irritated today.