Sleep: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Parenthood. Its five-year [No] ten-year [Still no] lifelong [Yes!] mission: to explore the inside of your eyelids; to seek out sleep wherever you can find it; to boldly snore where no one has snored before!”
Wait. Did you say “lifelong” mission? Really? Shouldn’t it be just “five-year?” By the time your kids are five years old they should be sleeping through the night, right? Parents should be able to sleep just fine by then, shouldn’t they? Are you trying to tell me that your children can affect your ability to sleep for the rest of your entire life?!? I didn’t know I was signing up for that!
Sleep is something we take for granted as single people. Before you become a parent, your thoughts on sleep are basically, “Sleep? Yeah, I’ll catch some of that whenever. It’s no big deal. There’ll always be time for sleep later.” Ha! If only you knew! When you’re a parent, that far-flung future known as “later” doesn’t actually exist, and it probably never will.
The ways in which a child can keep a parent from getting much-needed sleep include, but are not limited to: Crying; screaming; talking to their stuffed animals; arguing with their stuffed animals; peeing the bed; pooping the bed; barfing the bed; coughing; jumping on the bed; clicking the light switch on and off in rapid succession; pounding on the door; pounding on the wall; climbing up the wall; waking up their sibling; climbing on the furniture; knocking over the furniture; singing; sneezing; making too much noise; and, oddly enough, being too quiet.
And when the kids wake us up, we’ll do just about anything to get them back to sleep. We’ve piled sleepless kids in our bed with us and watched all kinds of shows in an attempt to get them to nod off, from nature documentaries, to educational cartoons, to game shows. (Maybe we should try political speeches. They seem to work for me.)
And now that our oldest are becoming teenagers, they occasionally want to stay out late. And, apparently, it’s recommended that at least one parent stay up until the kids get back home safely. Meaning I can’t go to bed at 8:00 PM like I would like to do.
There’s a lot of talk about the zombie apocalypse. I don’t think it will happen, but if it does, it won’t consist of the undead, it will just feature sleepless parents slowly going through their daily motions without any visible sign of higher brain functions.
Kids daydream about all kinds of fantastical, wonderful things. Parents daydream about sleep. It truly is the final frontier.