So, it’s 2am and I’m awake. Iv been awake pretty much since midnight. There was a time of course when this would be bedtime, if I was even back yet from whichever club or pub or party I was drowning my liver in.
Now of course I’m a parent things are different, I can’t be out like that because I have neither the funds nor the energy, plus the kids need looked after too. When I look back at the late nights and the drinking to excess I wonder where the energy came from. The truth is it didn’t, I’d be home at three, four o’clock and then sleep until lunch time, or on the days I was able to crawl out of bed for uni (or work) I’d have a catch up day of rest at some point. But now of course the sleeping in is our- a daughter who insists on waking between six and seven and waking her neither prevents that. As for ‘rest’ days it’s never going to happen.
So why am I up? And why was I up several times last night, and several the night before? The boy. Something has changed and it doesn’t feel like a positive change.
He’s clingy, and he seems to have developed separation anxiety. So now at bedtime we have screams, if he wakes up at night we have screams. No longer will he play independently in a separate room, he instead follows me around like a lost dog, whining if I try to leave him somewhere or having a tantrum if close a stair gate with him on the other side.
The days are hard, I can’t even move out of his field of vision without a whine or a “daddy wait” and because he’s so tired he’s got no patience (he isn’t the only one) so tantrums and tears are more frequent. But the real issue is the nights, such as now; I’m sat in the doorway of our room because it’s the furthest I can get away from Myles before the screaming and shouting starts. He’s led there now with his eyes open, just watching me. If I move amy further away he’ll be at his gate screaming. And this has become the norm this last week.
Iv been tired before, very tired. But this is a whole new level of torture, broken fractured sleep, early mornings, days completely bereft of a moments space or peace have left me here feeling fairly hopeless and on the edge of exhaustion.
I’m not alone of course, Rox was awake for an hour of the time tonight. She has work tomorrow so she’s asleep again now, though due to her issues she’ll be just as tired. It’d be really easy (and sometimes is) to be frustrated at her tiredness, she sleeps longer and deeper than I do, she falls to sleep more easily, she naps more, she gets more lie ins (a particular bone of contention) partly because she just doesn’t wake up and partly because habitually i get up and sort the kids. Add into this the reduced wakings by the children due to the depth of her sleep and really there’s no reason at all for her to be tired. Aside from the fact she has physical issues that make her more tired, she’s always been a sleepy person and her bodies become used to regular napping.
She does what she can, although tomorrow at 830 she’ll be out the door to work and free from the whining and tears (although as a dental hygienist maybe not).
For now, the boys staring at me, I’m stuck here, cold exhausted and uncomfortable and I just don’t know what to do next. If I move he starts crying and we start the process again, if I stay here I may just lose my mind. It reminds me of a time when I was working nights at Sainsbury’s, I’d been doing overtime so was tired, and every night had been the same- working the same stock onto the same shelves whilst the day staff had seemingly done somewhere between nothing and everything they could to make my job harder.
I picked a box from the cage, found its shelf space and sat on the floor to put it out. On emptying the box I had a moment where my head emptied and i thought to myself “I could just stay here, not get up again and refuse to move.” I then proceeded to sit there for some time in an essentially black state of mind. It’s probably the closest insight Iv had into how a mental breakdown can occur. That’s pretty much how I feel now, I’m sat here, I’m tired, and there’s little to no chance of me moving anytime soon (more by necessity currently).
So what can I do about it? Well actually very little. The internets full of ‘wisdom’ and ‘advice’ on dealing with the separation anxiety but it’s either crap, unreasonable or lots of words essentially meaning ‘suck it up.’ Im exhausted, and no doubt tomorrow night I will be even more exhausted.
So, she’s done it again. Gone mental with a whole host of ‘little’ trips away to visit people I don’t need to, or attend events I don’t want to.
First up is this weekend, a ten hour round trip to Great Yarmouth to attend a babies birthday party. Yes they’re her ‘friends’ (in as much as someone you’ve met on the internet and never actually met can be friends), yes it’s nice to celebrate a babies birthday, yes she needs- as a cripple- to get away, but it’s a hell of a long drive, the baby isn’t going to know or care if she’s there, and getting away is one thing, a long exhausting drive is another.
Now, of course we’ll make a holiday of it, we have a guest house booked and it’ll be a nice opportunity to have a few drinks and have some fun, but I do have some concerns about next Tuesday. She’s a grump at the best of times, add in the exhaustion of a holiday and all that driving, plus the fact it’s the grandparents from my side looking after the kids- and by extension the house- and it’s all sounding like a mega breakdown and super strop coming my way on Tuesday. Oh and she’s got a busy week next week too so it can only get worse (and grumpier)
Another trips booked in at the end of the month to Belfast for the boys birthday. This ones a slightly more acceptable one, there’s family there after all, but it’s still an exhausting amount of travel and stress to get there. And typically she is incapable of just taking it easy, she’s booked a game of thrones tour, a trip to Bangor, a night out, something else too plus she hasn’t even considered the boys birthday celebrations, but no doubt the final plan will involve lots of exhausting stress for her (and by extension me).
September is mercifully free of trips away, but there’s still time for her to find something, before we hit October and she’s planned a trip to Nottingham. This time she’s going without me, and leaving me in charge of the children. I’m happy enough to do this, though without the car it’s tougher. I’m more concerned about her, again it’s a trip to see internet friends, with a mega drive and planned drinking- something she doesn’t do too well at the best of times. So it’ll be a few days of work for her followed by a long drive, some drinks and a late night and then a long drive home. She’ll have an early night on the Sunday before I get grumped at on Monday.
November again another trip planned. To Manchester for some dental conference. Again, she’s planned a short break around it, but it’s still a mega drive, followed by three days of seminars and lectures whilst i stroll around the city waiting for her to finish. She has got some tommy Tiernan tickets for us whilst we’re there which should be good, but again it’s another late night for her. This trips made doubly stressful because her parents are coming to mind the house and kids, despite it being their wedding anniversary and having to cancel their traditional holiday away with each other (as much as they love the kids, babysitting isn’t the same thing).
December hits and at the moment we haven’t got anything planned, Christmas will of course bring it’s own problems, and we may end up visiting my family, but a normal stress free holiday would be nice.
January will see another trip to Belfast, no doubt just as crammed with activity, before Easter time when she’s talking about a weekend in London, which given last times exhaustion can only cause grumpiness.
Sooner or later I’m going to book myself a holiday away just for some peace and quiet. I’ll probably be no more than a few miles from home in a quiet hotel with a decent bar.
So, last night was a tough one. Iv not had a decent night sleep in years- as I mentioned- but the last week or so has been worse than normal, with the boy teething and me generally not sleeping, last night was a whole new level.
Before bed I put the recycling outside for collection, at which point my knee gave way launching me out the front door, down the steps and face first into the road. I had thrown the recycling across the road and my entire right side was sore- where my arms had been full of recycling I’d landed on my shoulder, hip and ankle rather than being able to catch myself on my hands. Despite this incredible pain i feel i was actually quite lucky as no bones broke and no skin either.
I hobble up to bed and crawl in, whereupon i quickly fall asleep (the last few weeks have made it very easy to fall asleep), half an hour later the rain smashing against the window wakes me, and my bladders shouting for attention, so I hobble back downstairs and empty it. On my return the boys awake so I settle him down and crawl back into bed.
Close my eyes
I stare at the ceiling for half an hour, at which point i decided I need to get up, so I pull some clothes on, walk outside to the car with the intention of moving it (it’s currently parked in the doctors surgery and needs moved before they open). Annoyingly in the time it takes me to get into the car and start it another car has pulled into the space i had planned to take, this is very annoying, it being late night and everyone should be in bed. So I give up, head back inside and crawl into bed.
Close my eyes,
I stare at the ceiling, I stare at the wall, i stare at my partners back, I listen to her snoring heavily, I resettle the boy again, i stare at the wall, I lie face down, I stare at the ceiling, I cuddle my partner, I go for a week I stare at the wall.
I pick up my ipad, it’s 130, so I run through the various games and facebooks and websites i frequent. At 2am I settle myself back down,
Close my eyes,
The boys awake, typical, I settle him back down and get back into bed, my partner starts talking nonsense at me- she does this a lot, especially when she’s asleep. I listen for a minute before her snores kick in again. One last check of emails, Facebook etc and at 3am settle down to sleep.
5am, the boy gets resettled.
6am, the girls in with a wet bed. I get up, dry bed, go downstairs, dry pyjamas, she gets cheeky and rude and is told off and sent back upstairs, when I get up there’s a ‘new’ wet patch on her bed, she’s either spat or dribbled on purpose. More cheekiness and lying and she’s told off and put to bed. Her screams wake her brother and mum (must have been loud) who settles them both down.
I settle back into bed,
Close my eyes,
“Mummy, can I read”
I close my eyes,
“Daddy can I let my brother out of his room”
“If you get the boy and change his bum I’ll take him downstairs”
One full pooey nappy later both kids are running around screaming whilst mum has dozed back off. She gets up and takes them downstairs.
The stair gate, mums brought me some tea.
I need it.
Now, I am fully accepting of the fact that as a parent it’s my job to be exhausted until they move out, and as a carer I can understand that I’m going to be tireder than most, but right now I feel like a corpse.
I guess that’s why they say ‘sleep when you’re dead’
So, the guilt is still there, here is my attempt at assuaging it.
A few weeks ago a friend asked about the realities of parenthood, this is a copy of what I said
So imagine those times in Cardiff where nobodies slept in days but someone’s so energised about going out that it happens, then the next night, similar scenario, someone’s excited about something so you go out, and so on and so on. Imagine that for 18 months, pretty much starting from the terrifying point the vagina evacuates itself from the body (we were shown a childbirth video in school and I can tell you they spared us the details, it’s more like a cow pooing).
But every time the child does something new, different, dangerous, geeky, you get your second, third, fourth wind and it’s all worth it
Yes, sometimes you just want a break, but it’s perfect, it really is.