One Small Step for Toddlers, One Giant Leap for Mom-Kind

When my second son, Alex, was born, I didn't sleep for a year. An entire year. I know, I know, babies aren't exactly conducive to sleep, but my son, well, it was like he was allergic to sleep.

I tried everything. I threatened him with sleep books. I tried letting him cry it out (I think I cried harder than he did). I tried co-sleeping. I looked for sleep experts -- the type who'd come in and tell me what the hell I was doing wrong -- to no avail. (Apparently, those people only exist inside the Internet.) I had sun-blocking shades in his room. I had a rocking chair. We had a bedtime routine that I clung to like a drowning sailor.

And yet. Nothing. Every one to three hours, the kid was up and only Mommy would do. I remembered this is how they tortured POWs and began to see motherhood as a unique type of torture camp. The postpartum depression set in. Hard.


Blearily, I'd get out of bed in the morning, too tired to drive anywhere, the rooms spinning dangerously, and as I poured boiling hot coffee on my hand without noticing (or even caring), I realized something had to give.

I had elaborate fantasies of running away in the middle of the night, going where no baby would wake me up, demanding to nurse or bounce or rock or cuddle. Just one night in a hotel where no one could find me. The depression and the sleep deprivation turned me into a drooling zombie.

When he turned 1, my son started to have a less tenuous relationship with sleep. While it wasn't the 12 uninterrupted hours I so desperately craved, it became closer to 8 whole hours. Bliss.

The heavens, they opened up and smiled down upon me. Sleep, glorious sleep, was once again my best friend ... until I got pregnant with his sister mere months later.

Alex is 4 now and his relationship with sleep is still troublesome. He, like his mother, is an insomniac, which it makes me feel incredibly sorry for him. I know first-hand that insomnia is an asshole.

So I do my best to make sure Blankie is clean and dry for him to take to bed (God forbid anything ever happen to that nasty old thing), I rub his back for what feels like hours, trying to help him relax. I use up every ounce of my patience not to yell, "GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP" when he's up for the zillionth time that night.

My eldest, who is staring down the barrel of 10, has frequent sleepovers at Grandma's house. It's been a long-standing tradition for him and, being autistic, it's the kind of thing that -- in his mind -- is necessary.

I'd figured that my middle son would never, ever be able to participate. I imagined him going off to college with Blankie, begging his roommate to pat his butt to sleep every night. (I also imagine him going off to college in diapers because THAT is how well potty-training is going, but alas, I digress.)

It goes to show you never can tell.

Last weekend, for the first time ever, Alex had a sleepover at Grandma's. What's more? He's doing it AGAIN this weekend.

While on the one hand, I'm singing George Michael's "FREEDOM" while waving my bra in the air, on the other, I'm just a little bit sad to see the baby in him is gone. Forever.

I'll dwell just as long as it takes me to pour myself a nice glass of vodka and drink it in absolute peace and quiet. For the first time in years. 

And I'm pretty sure that while he sleeps soundly, I'll be up half the night.


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