My 3-year-old daughter woke me up at 2 am tonight. Then again at 4 am. Then again at 5 am. She did this last Friday night too. Even more times. But last week she had a stomach virus and was vomiting. This week?…?
This time is seemed she was just being spoiled. Your regular 3-year-old antics.
But this sort of thing hasn’t happened since we put a gate to her room a couple months ago. So most of my poor sleep since then has been due to anxiety or this past week staying up later than usual to finish off editing my short book of poetry (coming soon!).
As I tried to go back to bed for a fourth time at 5 am this morning I had the following insight. It’s not new, but this idea crystallized so strongly for me: Parents make decisions for their children with the future in mind. Children obviously often don’t know that, or they don’t comprehend it, at least not fully.
And today I’m not talking about how we get our kids to school each day to prepare them for real life or something in the vein. Today I’m saying that as my head hit the pillow at 5 am today, craving so deeply the rest of my good night’s sleep, I thought to myself (and yes, sleep deprivation makes one crazy, even in the short term, so please understand), “If my kid doesn’t let me sleep now for a couple of hours, I’m just gonna leave the house for the day. Maybe go to a hotel where I can sleep soundly without interruption!” Since a friend’s house is out of the question because of the pandemic. Not to mention, all my really close friends live in my hometown area in NY/NJ and that’s a damn far trip to make just for a nap! (Have I mentioned this pandemic is making me hometown-sick more than ever?!!!)
Back to my point. In my sleep-driven madness, I legitimately thought I would have to leave the house. Ditch my kid for the day. Leave it up to my husband.
Like I said, sleep deprivation can make you think/say crazy things!
The point is I told my daughter to go back to sleep in her room in order to bring order back to the night. To get her the much-needed sleep she needed. And to get me the much-needed sleep I needed. In her mind I was telling her to do something she dreaded. In my mind, I was preventing something far worse, me leaving for a few hours or, more likely, me blowing up at her for pushing my buttons (even if unintentionally. Damn, girl! I need my sleep!)
I had another epiphany too, which in a way I’m grateful for having been up to have. In my half dream state trying to fall back to sleep I thought about how guys were the escape I used from stress/distraught feelings when I was single in my twenties, and my teens, and as a kid—earliest memory circa 7 yo.
Anyway, I was thinking and I realized how there was an allure of forbidden fruit. Like chocolate or any treat food we tell ourselves we can’t have and thus want even more.
Driving that initial attraction was that allure of the forbidden fruit. As well as novelty. As well as just an unhealthy way of seeking a man on a white horse as our culture had so successfully helped me cultivate.
Afterwards though, my impression of the guy went from alluring to awkward—at best. Other aftermath feelings included resentment, disgust, shame, overall icky vibes—toward the guy as well as inwardly toward myself.
The funny thing is, in all the sleepless anxious nights of my twenties when I was in the middle of these situations, I never had that crystal clear thought of, “Gila, it feels alluring like forbidden fruit now, but afterwards, the fruit will turn rotten!”
I guess my need for connection and intimacy at the time prevented me from stepping back enough to end it once and for all.
When I finally did decide to put an end to it and focus solely on dating for marriage, it was because I wanted to start a family and have a child. And I wanted to get on the train that would take me there sooner rather than later…or never?…
Which leads me to where I am today. Thankfully, I have a loving husband. Not so thankfully, I get woken up by my kid far more often than I would like, or feel I can survive at times.
But I’d take these sleepless nights over the angst of my twenties any day (or night!).
That being said, it’s time for mommy to take a nap!
Afterword: Turned out she had had severe constipation. Well, good! Not good that she had it, but good that she had real reason for waking us up every couple hours. And even better, it was only 20 minutes after I realized her predicament that it got resolved.