No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep. – unknown
If I were on my deathbed tomorrow, I could tell you about the great sleep I got in Nashville at the end of February, when I was sleeping in a hotel WITHOUT CHILDREN.
But, okay, I get that I’m missing the point of this “inspirational” quote, and I doubt it’s in direct reference to parenthood to begin with. It brought up a good
bitching speaking point for me, though, because too often lately I’ve seen or heard comments directed to (but mostly about) sleep deprived parents (like me).
“It’s such a short phase of your life. You have so many more years to get sleep.”
“Motherhood takes SACRIFICE.”
“You think YOU’RE tired? Hah. I get 2 hours of sleep a night, and you don’t see me complaining.”
“This, too, shall pass.”
While some of these comments come from a good place (and others are downright judgey and rude) they all convey one thing:
Sleep is not important. You can get by without it. You just have to deal. That’s part of motherhood.
Granted, sleep deprivation is very much a part of motherhood that’s incredibly hard to avoid. But that doesn’t mean we have to be okay with it! That doesn’t mean we should just get over it and put on a f-ing happy face about it, cherishing every exhausted moment, knowing one day we’ll look back and long for sleepless nights with babies in our arms because they’re all grown up and away at college playing beer-pong.
Sometimes a momma’s just tired as hell and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. 4 hours of sleep when one once got 8 does NOT a glass-half-full make. So take your optimism and judgement elsewhere, and let empathy or just silence fill it’s place.
Food, water, sleep. We NEED these things to SURVIVE. You’d never tell a new mom to just get used to the hunger and dehydration that can easily set in those first few weeks home with a newborn when she can hardly find time to pee, let alone shove a granola bar in her mouth. No! You’d tell her to take care of herself, get help, make time to eat and keep water with her at all times.
So, please, don’t tell a mother to just “deal” with a lack of sleep. It’s not selfish to need rest. It stems from one’s desire to STAY ALIVE, which happens to be pretty crucial when it comes to keeping small children alive, it turns out.
Beyond just being annoyed by all the judgement that is slung around when it comes to this, I come at this after months of struggling with postpartum anxiety, knowing now how DEEPLY I’m affected by not getting enough sleep. It’s not about just wanting these bags under my eyes to go away, it’s about wanting to function day to day, about wanting to be a good mother while I’m awake.
The next time a mom says to you how tired she is, shove all that anecdotal optimism and judgement deep down into your gut and, instead, maybe offer to watch the kid(s) while she takes a nap. Also, make sure she’s eaten in the last 3 hours and has a jug of water with her at all times.