Being A Parent Means Never Sleeping Well Again

by Tara Wood
Tara Wood

I’ve been startled awake from deep, glorious sleep by my children in a myriad of shitty ways throughout the years.

Let’s talk about a few of them:

– I’ve co-slept with all seven of my kids which means that, as babies, they’ve all barfed into my mouth or down my shirt or on my face at least once in the middle of the night. That’ll get you moving real quick, and it’s always fun to change clothes, sheets, and your mind about having kids while the moon is still hanging high.

– One of my daughters woke up to pee in the middle of the night. When she flipped on the light switch, she saw a bug on the counter. She came all the way downstairs and shook me awake at 1:50 a.m. to deliver the super-specific news that there “was a bug in the bathroom. It’s not a grown-up bug or a teenager bug. It’s more like, a toddler bug.

“It’s not all the way growed up yet so we should just let it live.” I did not want or need that information at all. Ever. Also, who categorizes bugs by stages of life? WTF, kid?

– One of our sons entered our bedroom to let my husband and I know that he’d learned that kids do their growing at night and that he “just felt his bones get longer,” so he was going to need some new pants soon. That shit was urgent, apparently. Also, he was the same height when he woke up as when he went to bed so it wasn’t even true. Turd.

– “Jesus christ. What the fuck?!” were the exact words my husband Garrett used when he woke up because he had the sense of someone watching him. The street lamps outside of the bedroom at our old house allowed just enough light to stream through the blinds that, when he opened his eyes, he saw the silhouette of our daughter — 6 years old at the time — at his bedside. She was just standing there. In silence. Staring at him while he slept.

Her long hair was hanging all scraggly and creepy in front of her face, so Garrett thought that terrifying bitch from The Ring had broken into our house with her mind on murder and murder on her mind. I still don’t know how he had the self-control and restraint to not wildly punch the air, but he quickly realized it was our kid just trying to decide if she should wake her dad to tell him she had a bellyache. Fortunately, she was left unscathed.

Let me tell ya’ll this: If she’d done that shit on my side of the bed, I’d likely be explaining to social services that “yes, my daughter does have a black eye, but it’s because, instead of nudging me awake like a normal human being, she tried to will me from sleep with her weird-ass mind, and I thought she was the sinister character from a 2002 horror film, so it’s 100% her fault and I will testify to that in court, Judy!” You know, the way you talk to caseworkers and all.

But things can always get weirder, case in point, my daughter Norah pulled out a mechanical cat from the bottom of a toy chest last week. It hadn’t been played with in months, and I was not sad that the batteries were dead. Its eyes were frozen half shut so that it looked like it’d just smoked one thousand joints. It’s tongue was sticking out slightly as if it was forever licking a nonexistent ice cream cone (I’m guessing it had the munchies after all those joints).

Because I’m a stellar mom but also because my kid was all whiny and shit, I tracked down one of those teeny tiny screwdrivers to remove the itty-bitty screw to the battery compartment.

That compartment was located in the cat’s ass, incidentally.

Once its life had been restored and it was meowing and moving its head, I handed the freaky thing to my kid and didn’t think about it again.

Naturally, my youngest daughter Marigold wanted to play with the cat, too, but instead of kindly sharing with her little sister, Norah chose to haul ass to my and Garrett’s bedroom and — unbeknownst to us — hide it under our bed.

Fast-forward about 16 hours, guys.

I have no idea what time it was, but I was sleeping like a son-of-a-bitch when I heard the first sound.

You know how when you’re stone-cold snoozing and something, a noise usually, is off just enough that it wakes you, but you were sleeping so damn good that you don’t want to believe you really heard anything so your brain is all “Pfft, it’s cool girl. You were just having a wacky dream about glass shattering and your backdoor being kicked in. It’s not really happening. Go night, night.”

Right, well, it was like that. I was certain I’d heard something, but I asked my brain to kindly shut up.

It couldn’t have been more than a few moments later when I woke again to a noise that I couldn’t identify but knew shouldn’t be in my bedroom.

My eyes opened wide in the pitch-black room, I pulled the comforter up to my chin, clenched my asshole real tight, and waited.

Thirty seconds later, there it was again.

A grinding noise followed by what sounded almost like a growl, then a plaintive wail followed by a thump and more grinding.

So I was all “Not tonight, Satan,” and like any terrified red-blooded American, I elbowed my husband in the ribs until he woke up.

Garrett: What? What’s wrong?

Me: Dude. There is something under the bed. It’s something fucked up.

Garrett: You’re probably just dreaming. It’s just a dream. Go back to sleep.

Me: Okay, I’ll try, but if I hear it again, you have to get up.

Garrett: Mkjshdkjagsflegsfjh *snoring*

There was silence for about two minutes and then murder noises again.

My adrenaline was pumping, I was frightened, and it was clear that I’d have to find the courage to take action and save my family’s lives.

I took a deep breath and then used my index finger to aggressively poke my husband’s face until he woke again.

Me: Psst… hey. We’re about to die, I think.

Garrett: Ugh! What’s the matter?

Me: There is something nefarious under our motherfucking bed. And I don’t know what it is, but it sounds like it’s bloodthirsty and might eat my face. I like my face. Check it out. Would you?

And so my brave and physically henpecked man turned on his bedside lamp, and bending at the waist to look under the bed, laughed when he identified the malevolent culprit.

There he found Angus, our living cat, pawing at the bastard animatronic cat whose ass I had opened several hours earlier to insert life-giving batteries.

Garrett pulled the toy cat from under the bed and presented it to me with “Here’s your demonic face-eater, sweetheart.”

Never a-fucking-gain, bitches.

You guys do what you want, but I’m suggesting — nay — enforcing a no-battery-operated toys* rule up in our home.

Kids already do a fine job of screwing up a good night’s sleep. I’m not about to let a toy be the reason I nearly shit the bed and lie awake wondering if Chupacabra is about to feast on my flesh.

*No-battery-operated toys does not apply to adult toys. Duh.