Friday, October 21, 2011

Morning Cups of Tea. And About Sleep...

I would love a morning sunny kitchen, but ours is a bit gloomy first thing. (Or is that just me?) So to cheer myself up a bit after a rough night in with a wakeful child, I try to start the day off right by enjoying a sweet cup of tea in the front garden.

Birds calling, fresh fig leaf and flower frangrances, bright petals, dappled sunshine and that good, good tea. The kids are happy to scamper about out here, because normally I have to keep the front door shut to imprison our adventurous little runaway.

Aah, sleep. Before I had babies, I had absolutely no idea that it could take them so long to sleep all night. I guess I thought it was a few weeks? A couple of months? But until about a week ago, I hadn't had a full (ish) night's sleep for more than FIVE YEARS. Yes, for all that time I've been a 24hr milk bar and waking up sucked dry like a wizened husk. I know there are many of you who feel my pain, sisters!!! And brothers!

Sadly, I'm not one of those amazing, enviable souls who can just soldier on through the day after a broken night's sleep. I get tired. So tired. I wasn't even a party animal when I was young - couldn't hack the late nights! Anyway, at their worst, both my kids were waking up 8-10 times a night. I rub my eyes and shake my head just thinking about it. I would start the night with responses like, "There, there, it's all right love, go to sleep," but by around 4.00am there would be a lot of swearing, which really wasn't doing anyone any good and certainly wasn't a lovely image of attachment parenting.

I've probably made mistakes; I'm certainly no sleep whisperer, that's for sure. But I just can't bear to leave the little beggars to cry; it just doesn't feel right for me. We always intended to co-sleep and I don't regret it, although it has certainly put me off having any more children! I don't think I could go through that again! Although Mother Nature, in her kindness, does seem to have a way of making you forget after a while. Even the agony of childbirth can take on a rosy glow in retrospect...actually, no it doesn't.

I am very much enjoying the hilarious "The Idle Parent" by the eminently sensible and funny Tom Hodgkinson. I would love to be able to share with you his whole chapter on sleep, because he encapsulates my feelings perfectly. Tom speaks my truth when he says, "Sleep-deprived people lack reason. They are dark shadows of gloom. They become tetchy and irritable. Everyone seems an idiot, and the world is hostile. One friend says he gets into a sort of murderous rage, and he doesn't realize that his fury is directly caused by his lack of sleep until he finally gets some rest. Then he wakes up and feels like a different person." Here is one of his articles about sleep and napping.

So for me, a very preciously guarded time of the day is: NAP TIME. Hooray for naps! Nature's consolation for the rough night before. Tom again:

“I count it as an absolute certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. A nap is a perfect pleasure and it's useful, too. It splits the day into two halves, making each half more manageable and enjoyable. How much easier it is to work in the morning if we know we have a nap to look forward to after lunch; and how much more pleasant the late afternoon and evening become after a little sleep. If you know there is a nap to come later in the day, then you can banish forever that terrible sense of doom one feels at 9 A.M. with eight hours of straight toil ahead. "

I hold naps fully responsible for my good health and wellbeing, and moderate level of sanity. And with Jimmy now sleeping with Daddy until the birds sing...

I'm feeling a little bit brighter. Yawn.


  1. Thanks for you lovely honesty Cath :)
    While it is different for us all and we struggle with many challenges, we are all in it together and sharing lightens the burdens. In symmetry too, for the writer and the reader :)

    Love you, Tam.

  2. Cath, what a beautifully written post. I take my hat off to you darling for the whole co-sleeping thing. I just didn't have it in me. At night I used to let them fall asleep while feeding in our bed but after they were asleep and I had had my cuddles, I always put them back to their own bed. I hope you have a good nights rest soon. (It was totally AWESOME talking to you on the phone last weekend. Thanks for giving up your alone time to talk. Love you and miss you more!!!)

  3. You could of been writing about my life with my boys there Cath. Alex in particular was so tough at night. I remember getting so frustrated and angry My Husband would just send me away. I didn't always go, and was usually enough to snap me back to the "greater Goal" And the greater goal has been worth it. i have two easy well adjusted kids who sleep through the night ( mostly :P) In the greater scheme of things, It really was such a short time; and in my moments of insanity I miss those sleepy breastfeeding moments where I (felt like hurling abuses) gazed adoringly into their eyes


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