“Remember when going to bed was just going to bed?” my wife asked during a commercial break while watching Top Chef. “Now it’s a whole ordeal. There’s all this trepidation about when the kid’s going to wake up, if he’s going to go back to sleep easily, how much he’s going to sleep, how much we’re going to be able to sleep, how long it’s going to take us to go back to sleep…it’s just so frustrating!” she continued.
“Sucks, huh?” I responded, knowing exactly how she was feeling, “Sleep used to be something to look forward to. It just happened. Now, it’s a crap-shoot. I do almost fear it,” I said.
“Exactly. Sometimes I sit here with you and the dog and forget we have a kid. Then when we go to bed, it all comes rushing back. It totally sucks,” she whimpered.
Sometimes it does suck. Sometimes, as bad as it sounds, you do wish for the way you were: The dates, the drinks, the sex, the sleep.
I think of all the issues that come to a head after the birth of a child, the sleep issue is the most frustrating. It causes the most strife, the most contention, the most arguments, the most yelling, and the most tears. Without a solid relationship, I don’t know how many parenting couples survive this single, life consuming issue.
Just when you think you have it figured out, it blows up in your face. One night little Jack will sleep for ten hours and we’ll think we’ve turned a corner, but then the next three nights he’ll be up every two hours again. It can be an unbelievably disheartening strain on your relationship, and unimaginably tiring. My wife and I could have probably counted the fights we had, in a decade plus prior to parenthood, with one hand. Last month it seemed we fought every day, and definitely every night. It can get pretty ugly at 3:30 in the morning when you’ve both averaged under five hours of sleep a night for the past half a year. You yell at the kid, you yell at each other, and you even yell at the dog, knowing full well that the yelling isn’t helping anything. It can get so bad that you actually do dread the hours that you used to dream away.
“I called my daughter a ‘little bitch’ last night,” my friend told me the other day, referring to the previous night’s sleep struggle with his five month old daughter.
“I call Jack a ‘little bitch’ all the time,” I responded, feeling slightly guilty but also feeling that he does in fact deserve the label from time to time, especially when he’s trying to be wide awake at 4AM after I just finally fell back asleep after his 2AM wake-up. I’m sure the last time it happened won’t be the last time it happens, unfortunately.
That’s the thing with these little bundles of joy that we choose to produce, one second you can’t hug them enough, the next you want to throw them through a wall. I’m guessing that it’s probably the case for their entire lives, they just get heavier and learn to drive…and by then you’re probably bitching at them for sleeping too much. Go figure.