I’ve been tired for somewhere around a decade now. I’m not exactly sure how many years it’s been. I’ve lost count. All I know is that I, like most parents, operate in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation. It’s a wonder we manage as well as we do, isn’t it?
We’re tired when our kids are newborns because babies don’t give a rat’s ass whether we need a full eight hours — we’re on their timeline now, dammit. Even so, we’re stupidly optimistic. Maybe when the baby starts sleeping through the night. I’ll be able to sleep better and feel more refreshed, we think, naively hopeful.
My youngest is 4. I’m still waiting to feel refreshed.
I start yawning at like 6:30 in the evening. But I know there’s far too much to do — dinner and cleanup and homework and the kids’ bath and bedtime routine — for me to even consider turning in early. I grit my teeth through the fatigue. I do what needs to be done. Exhaustion sets in, and it’s too late for caffeine. By the time the kids are tucked in, the dark circles under my eyes are big enough to require their own zip code. “Just go to bed,” my husband suggests oh-so-helpfully, which is exactly what he does. He just goes right in there and gets under the covers and snores, all in a span of approximately three minutes.
I’m envious of his ability to “just” go to bed, to turn it all off like a switch, to be able to announce that he’s going to bed and actually do it, because try as I might, I can’t.
Every day I say to myself, I’m going to get a decent rest tonight! But I can literally be on my way to the bedroom and that alone will trigger a chain of events that prevent me from an early bedtime. Inevitably, it goes something like this:
– I go upstairs, intending to sleep. Did I lock the front door? I don’t think I locked the front door. So back downstairs I go.
– I pass the bathroom. There’s a pile of clothes on the floor in there that I missed when I was gathering up dirty laundry (because heaven forbid my family actually uses the hamper). I scoop up the clothes and take them to the laundry room.
– I see my son’s favorite T-shirt and I know he’s going to ask to wear it tomorrow, so I decide to start a load of laundry. I can just start the washer and then dry it in the morning, I think. Because I am totally going to bed as soon as I put this load in.
– I notice the dog’s water bowl is empty, so I refill it.
– What’s that smell? Damn, it’s the trash. I don’t want that smell to greet me as soon as I wake up. Better take the trash to the garage — and then put a new bag in.
– We’re almost out of trash bags, so I locate my grocery list. What else was it that I needed but didn’t write down earlier? I rack my brain. Oh yeah…a can of hair spray.
– Oh shit. A can. I forgot about the canned food drive at school. The kids are supposed to take cans of food tomorrow. I rummage through the pantry: SpaghettiOs, clam chowder, corn. I stuff cans into backpacks.
– While I have the backpacks open, I remember that I still need to sign my son’s homework folder. Better do that so I don’t forget to do it in the morning.
– I put the kids’ backpacks by the front door, which is when I remember to check the lock, which is why I came downstairs to begin with. And now I am going to bed. For real.
– But wait, did I lock the back door?
– On the way to check the back door, I trip over my kid’s shoe — one shoe. I decide to locate the other one so there won’t be a mad scramble to do it in the morning two minutes before the bus comes. Why can’t they just put the damn things in the proper place? I mean, how hard is it?
– In the process of locating the other shoe, I step on something gross and sticky. I go to get the paper towels and realize I need to get a new roll, which is in the laundry room. While I’m in there, I notice that there are only 10 minutes left in the wash cycle. I’ll just find something to do for 10 minutes and then put the clothes in the dryer before I go to bed. Because I am totally going to bed. I mean it.
– I clean up the sticky mess and decide to unload the dishwasher while I wait for the clothes.
– I figure while I’m in the kitchen, I may as well pack the kids’ lunches and get a jump start for tomorrow morning. The washer goes off while I’m making sandwiches, but I finish anyway.
– I go to put the laundry in the dryer and realize there’s already a load in there…wrinkling…shit. I would just let it go, but then I spot one of my husband’s work shirts which he will probably need.
– I fold the laundry. It wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and lay out the kids’ clothes for school, I think.
– Finally, finally, I’m actually going to go to bed.
– I mean, after I brush and floss my teeth. And wash my face. And slather on the wrinkle cream that’s supposed to make me wake up looking fresh, like I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Oh, the irony.
What’s worse is that usually — even though I spend my early evenings in a fog of fatigue — I’m wide awake by the time my head hits the pillow. So then I’m like, I’ll just check my email on my phone real quick, which leads down the rabbit hole of Pinterest and Facebook, reading articles and taking important quizzes like “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You?”
Meanwhile, my husband is snoring beside me. And not softly — it’s more like he’s trying to inhale the curtains, which doesn’t exactly make it any easier to get some shut-eye. But then again, neither does my raging jealousy that he can actually sleep without interruption.
Wait. Interruption. Didn’t we just get an “interruption of services” notice from the cable company because our payment is late? Maybe I should go back downstairs and check…