When Will I Sleep Again ?

toddler sleeping on mom

This is how the other night went:

12:30am – there is a shuffling down the hall, a silhouette of a mini human by my bedside waits quietly, then turns to shuffle back down the hall to little silhouette’s room.

It is cold, so I get up, go to the little one’s room, cover him back up. He reaches up to me so I have to lay in his bed for a few minutes. I say have to, because if I don’t he will get upset and I will never make it back to my own bed alone.

3:30am –  another shuffling down the hall, a silhouette of same mini human is by my bedside, trying to climb into my bed. He succeeds, wedges his little body between me and husband and goes to sleep. His head on most of my pillow.

4:15am – “Mom”…”Mom”…”Mama”….”Mom”… the other little being yelling from his room. Having just fallen back to sleep from the rousing of the first little being, I stumble down the hall into bedroom of the yelling child.

Me: are you ok?
Child: I can’t find my Thor Tsum Tsum
Me: (internally) are you fucking kidding me !  (externally) Honey I am sure it’s in your bed.
Child: No
I spend the next few minutes looking for a 2 inch Thor in the dark.
Me: I don’t know if we will find him, it is dark
Child: But I need him.
Me: (internally) weeping. (Externally) What if I just sleep with you
Child: ok

As I pull the covers down I find the missing Tsum Tsum but have committed to sleeping in the twin bed with one of the twins so I am stuck.

6:30am – The house is awake, joining me as I have been awake since the missing Tsum Tsum incident.

Somehow and sadly, this has become the norm.

I Was Warned About This

When I was pregnant everyone warned us about the lack of sleep. And they were right. That first year, especially those first few months almost killed me. I should have been in a study about people who somehow survive having not slept for 3 months straight.

Once we hit about a year and a half and were past the teething, crawling, walking, sleep regression, I thought, finally a full night’s sleep.

But anyone who is a mother knows that even when they are sleeping through the night, we still aren’t.  Any noise that comes out of the child’s room, wakes you up. Depressingly, even a night away from your children, doesn’t bring a full night’s sleep. After you have been programmed to wake up every few hours, that just becomes the new norm.

I was kind of ok with that, I was still getting chunks of sleep here and there. Thinking anything is better than that those first few months. I was a fool. I had no idea what toddler twins would do to my getting a full night’s sleep.

The toddler years bring a litany of new reasons as to why my kids are still robbing me of much-needed sleep. Here are just a few

  1. Nightmares – this is a legit reason to wake up. I will never get upset in the middle of the night going to their bedside or putting them on our bed because of a nightmare. Though this is one of the least occurring reasons as to why they wake up.
  2. Someone has wet the bed – this too is on the acceptable list. But, also, one of the less frequent reasons for waking in the night.
  3. Sickness – Once they enter school, all bets are off. These kids are sick all the time! And a sick kids means, husband is on the couch and kid(s) are in bed with me, coughing, sneezing, puking in my face. All-night-long.
  4. Stuffy Nose – my boys hate having a stuffy nose. So they wake up, cry they have a stuffy nose, which only exacerbates it, and have to sleep with me sniffing in my face all night long.
  5. Just want to sleep with me – adorable I know, but once one is in our bed, twin telepathy kicks in, waking the other one, Realizing his brother is gone, he then too wants to be in our bed. They both have to sleep near me, so I am wedged in between two beings clinging to me or I sleep at the foot of the bed.
  6. They lost their sock in the middle of the night – this happens at least once a week.
  7. Lost their blanket in the middle of the night – again, once a week if not twice.
  8. They don’t want their socks on anymore – God forbid they just take them off themselves.
  9. Someone lost a stuffed animal – None of the other 50 stuffed animals on their bed will suffice.
  10. The night-light is too bright.
  11. There is no night-light.
  12. They need me to pull up the covers.
  13. Are too cold.
  14. Are too hot.

The list goes on, their reasons are arbitrary, and there seems no end in sight.

Somehow, over three years in, I am back to where I started at the beginning of motherhood, not getting any sleep. Only this time, it is worse, because they are bigger, take up more of the bed, the 7 animals they bring with them take up the other half of the bed and always take my pillow.

 

Raising Feminists

father and son at Women's March

This post is co-authored by my very good friend Colleen, who like myself, is working hard to parent our children in a thoughtful manner while trying to find age appropriate ways to teach them the importance of equality. She has two daughters and I have two sons, and we are raising them in a world where there is gender judgement on both sides of the aisle. I want my boys to know that believing in equality and women’s rights does not make them less of a man, while my friend wants her daughters to embrace their strength, intelligence and female empowerment. 

Raising Feminist Sons (Kate)

My husband and I are raising two sons. At this point in their lives, they have no idea that their gender may allow them to go through life unaware of the struggle for equality of so many women. At the same time, I want them to feel secure enough in their masculinity to embrace and fight for equal rights for the women in their lives and country.

Our goal as their parents is to raise them with awareness, understanding and the responsibility to fight against the oppression of their friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. And as parents we don’t want to look back on their lives and ask “Did WE do enough?”

They have brooms and dustpans, a play kitchen and baby dolls because taking care of your home and your children is what men do alongside women. I make a conscious effort to point out when their dad does dishes and laundry and when I am going to work, because in our home we all pitch in.

They have superheroes; Batman and Thor and Spiderman, but they also have Wonder Woman, Black Widow and Batgirl because girls are superheroes too.

They love blue and gray and green but also have pink and purple toys.

We use words like “consent’ and often say “their body their rules” because when they are of dating age, I want these words and terms to be innately understood.

They are obsessed with trains, plains and automobiles, so I make sure to point out police women, female firefighters and construction workers and female pilots, because I don’t want them ever to question that a woman can’t do the same job as they. 

 It will be my job to make sure they learn the names of the incredible women who made this world a better place, as I don’t recall hearing about too many female influences in my schooling,

We are making sure the male influences in their lives are confidently outspoken about the rights of women. Their grandfather, uncles and our male friends all believe women’s rights are human rights and that doesn’t make them any less of a man.

On Jan. 21st we took them to the Women’s March in Los Angeles, to stand in solidarity and raise our voices. And it was beautiful. We have never talked politics with them, as they are too young, so we told the boys we were marching because everyone should be treated equally, and they loved it because it’s true.

I hope, when they look back on images of their young selves at their first march, I want them to remember we were parents of action, not just words. That we didn’t just lecture them on equality but we actively fought against repression. And I hope that influences them to be active members in their schools and communities and fight against inequality and injustice.

little girl supporting Women Run Businesses

Raising Empowered Daughters (Colleen)

When I first heard about the Women’s March on Washington and the sister marches around the country I was super excited to join. Activism, feminism, community, what’s not to love? Especially as a parent of two young girls, three and a half and three months, it felt like an important, even historical, event celebrating a women’s voice.

So when a work commitment came up and my husband was no longer able to join our local march I was at a loss. The event felt monumental but without a second parent support system and crowds expected in 100,000’s I didn’t want an inspiring event to be overshadowed by logistical stress and an inability to translate overwhelming crowds and messages to my kids in real-time.  But I also didn’t want to let the day go by without somehow participating. How could I be a parent and an activist?

Since the march was off the table (this time!) I decided that what was important for me was to reinforce the idea that women are strong and capable leaders. Like everyone else, I’ve been offended by words Trump has used that don’t recognize  women as equals.  I don’t want my girls to ever be spoken to or about in a way that undermines their intelligence and misplace their value.  Since boys vs girls is all the talk at preschool these days focusing on women as leaders felt like the right place to start. 

A quick google search brought up a number of business in our neighborhood owned by women. My daughter and I wrote letters thanking them being strong women role models. I wanted her to see that women leaders are all around us even if they are not currently reflected in the news media.

 The day of the March the three of us, my youngest sleeping in the baby carrier, passed out our notes to our neighbors. It was such a such fun experience! Some places were closed since the entire staff was at the march but the ones that were open were incredibly receptive to saying hello. Only one place was not inline with our political message but still more than happy to have a dialogue about women leaders.  If anything, we met some amazing women that day.

 My girls are too young to fully grasp what makes our current political atmosphere so divisive and we do shield them from some of the more negative speak on both sides. I don’t want them to feel scared or unsafe and at 3 years old our oldest can interpret information in ways we can’t predict.  While asking my kids to understand politics is not a priority right now, I do want them to grow up feeling that they have a powerful voice in country where women are valued and equality is the expectation.  I can’t believe they will be 7 and 4 at the end of this presidential term and I’m sure how we speak to them will change with time but hopefully small steps will lead to engaged citizens that will use their voice to continue to shape our country.

 

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