Once upon a time there was a little girl who was cursed with insomnia by her wicked biological mothers’ crappy DNA. This mother’s DNA also gave this little girl a fear of telephones and big thighs but whatever, I can bitch about those later. From the time this little girl’s memory started keeping track of things she knew she was different. Her younger sister fell asleep before her head even hit the pillow and I know you’re thinking that’s impossible but I assure you she was a freak of nature- her soft snore would kick in halfway between the sitting to laying positions. (If she leaves a comment to deny this, don’t bother reading it- for she is LYING TO YOU.) Why was the little girl, OK fine, was why I so different?
My parents would put us to sleep together in our shared double bed, me on the left side, Snoreface on the right. After receiving a thoroughly entertaining reading of Dr. Seuss by my father, many nights my mom and dad would come in, sit on the end of our bed and sing us folk songs with the prettiest, sweetest harmonies that could lull a rabid bull frog to sleep. Then they would retreat to their room, where if they left the doors open just wide enough, I could see them reading their books or magazines in bed.
We didn’t have white noise of any kind but if I listened closely I could hear the low buzz of the streetlight on the corner, AC/DC ‘s dulcet tones wafting over from under my brother’s door and some Hair Band coming from my older sisters’ room. The room was peacefully lit from the soft blue light emanating from the antique painted miniature bulb lamp that rested on our shared dresser, a little more than a night-light’s glow but this went unnoticed by me until I was older.
So the scene is set. It was an environment conducive to the nurturing of a young ones sleep. Only I didn’t. I spent much of the beginning of the night taking turns looking out into the hall and after getting annoyed with that, turning over to study the contents that lay outside the big window to my left. Trees? Check. Streetlight? Check? Neighbor’s lawn? Check. That one big ass rock? Check check. This got boring fast. So, most nights I would try to poke Snoreface awake. In a fervent whisper: Susie? Poke her forehead. Suusie? Poke her cheek. Suuuuuuusie? Sometimes I would stick my finger up her nose and sometimes I would whisper things like There are gorilla’s under the bed!, The house is on fire! or There’s a tornado outside our window! Sometimes she would wake up but only long enough to give me a dirty look, flick me off, and fall back asleep as she was flipping her back to me (a freak I tell you!).
Once I got a little older I would lay in bed until my parents flipped off their light and then I would get up after I counted a reasonable amount of Mississippi’s to feel safe from being busted. I would line up my stuffed animals on the edge of the bed, try to find the moon outside the window or go sit at the top of the stairs. This last one was my favorite because I happened to have a very naughty older sibling who liked to sneak in late and as I’ve found out since she was none too sober on many of these occasions.The upstairs of our house was situated as such: The stairs came up the middle of an open rectangle with a room at each corner. I would sit here and wait until said naughty sibling stumbled in and she would sit with me, letting me chatter her ear off as many 8-9-10 year olds are apt to do when given the opportunity. Being in the state she was I’m sure she found this plenty amusing and I had company.
I was never received well when I went in to my parents’ room because I was scared or just so tired of not being able to sleep. My mom had so much on her plate with 7 people to keep alive and she had trouble sleeping as well, so she didn’t have much patience when I interrupted her during the brief time she had to recuperate. Also I was always too nervous to wake her so I did that really creepy thing where I would just stand next to her face and stare at her until she woke up. I think I scared the bejesus out of her so many times her sympathy was running on the low side.
Being a mom now, I certainly don’t blame her but those years spent shifting so endlessly in a bed have left their impression. Rowan is an awesome sleeper for the most part. The first four months of her life were spent getting up 4-6 times a night for feedings and popping her nuk back in, but after that things have been fairly smooth sailing. Short lived regressions here and there, a nightmare, a potty accident or a lost-in-the-covers Woobie. On night’s where these things have happened I jump out of bed, eager to help her because I have such enormous empathy when it comes to sleep issues- I want to be there in a way that just wasn’t possible for my mom. I gladly offer a snuggle with her on the couch at 2am after she’s had a bad dream and she takes me up on the offer, curling her tired little body up next to mine but after only a few minutes she lets me know that she’s ready to go back to her bed. It makes me happy. And also a little jealous. Clearly she doesn’t have the talents Snoreface possessed but she definitely doesn’t lay awake for hours on end every night.
Keaton’s sleep saga has been an adventure and is entirely too long to fit here but long story short he’s been sleeping great for the most part since he was eight months old. Let us not speak of the eight months before that. I hope that these two buggers will not be afflicted with the trouble I have had my whole life. It does go up and down but on average I fall asleep an hour and a half after my head first hits the pillow. I’ve tried a number of sleeping remedies from herbal teas and supplements, to drinking copious amounts of alcohol, to the 2.5 years where I took between 2-6 Tylenol PM every night, sometimes with the alcohol (SEE YOU IN HELL LIVER. I NEVER LIKED YOU ANYWAY.)
Maybe insomnia skips a generation or two like my mom’s beautiful olive skin must (WHERE IS MY OLIVE SKIN DAMMIT. (Accursed father and his stupid norweigoness)). I so hope for my kid’s sake that they don’t ever have a problem but if they do they have a mama who is well equipped to help them through it- even if it means getting drunk, sitting at the top of the stairs and listening to them tell me all about what their best friend said to them during lunch today, which girl/boy is a poo-poo head and/or the mating habits of grouse in the wild. I will be there. And not just because I can’t sleep either.