As I stumbled up to Cole's crib he quieted, but did not stop, his whining and held a finger out to me. "Take this Mommy," he said. As I reached to his hand he told me, "take this booger Mommy." I felt a very large, crusted booger in between my thumb and index finger. Fantastic.
Seriously, is this what I have become? Am I now someone that can be awakened in the early morning hours, exhausted and cold, only to retrieve a small person's dried and picked snot? (I am ashamed to admit it but I did flick the booger back at him, though I am pretty positive he was so happy to have someone in his room he could not have cared less if I flicked his own snot at him.)
I am not sure why this bothered me so much. I mean, in the grand scheme of sleep experiences with my children, being woken up at 6 a.m. after a night of solid sleep is not all that bad, certainly not an occasion to be upset. I was tired though, as I so often am and some days it just gets old having your sleep be entirely at the mercy of other people...particularly small and demanding-in-so-many-other-ways, people.
Since becoming a mother 4.5 years ago there are few things I have prayed for more often and more fervently than sleep. I have negotiated all sorts of deals and bargains with God in hopes that my promises to go to church more regularly or spend less time worrying about my lack of cute clothing will yield hours of uninterrupted sleep from my children. Yes, I am aware that this is not how God works, but after about 4 hours of sleep there are all sorts of things that seem reasonable. I would like to say that I have spent equal or more hours praying for those with more serious problems than my own, but the truth is that during those low times there are few things that seem more problematic than my own exhaustion.
This sleep deprivation torture is something that I was totally unprepared for prior to becoming a mother. I knew that babies wake, cry, and eat in the night but I had no realistic image of how that would translate into my day-to-day life. I didn't fully understand the pain of being really tired. The first years of both of my children's life were filled with tears and emotional breakdowns due to the simple fact that I could not get enough hours of sleep in a row to be sane. I am not a nice person tired, or hungry for that matter, but let's focus on one weakness at a time.
As I feel my daughter on the way kick and move in my belly, I am reminded most that the sleep torture is about to begin again. There will be sleepless nights and days that do not end. There will be moments when I feel so angry at my husband for being able to sleep through her fifth wake up in two hours that I am sure the sheer power of my wrath will stir him from sleep (this has yet to happen by the way). I will start to cry when Aiden asks me "why" for the 100th time about things like his poop being green or the faucet dripping. I will feel like instead of listening to those prayers and working a deal with me, God has instead chosen to punish me for one of the million wrong-doings of my past or present. (I knew I shouldn't have stolen my Dad's cigarettes in the sixth grade.)
But, I do know that this time will most likely be better than with Cole, just like Cole was easier than Aiden. I have some perspective, which is invaluable on a tired day....though not really worth crap on the third day in a row of no sleep when pure insanity and desperation have set in.
(I do have a somewhat morbid, though I feel potentially effective, plan to re-run media footage of the Katrina or Haiti tragedy, or read brief passages of the terribly depressing book, "Half the Sky" to remind myself how unbelievably awesome my life is, how blessed and privileged I truly am, especially in comparison to some. Though... sitting down to watch TV or read a book are not usually fitting into my exhaustion schedule, but we'll work on that detail.)
The good news is that I know this, it will all end. I will sleep again, even if I do have to be woken up a little early to get a booger.