After a long, sleepless night in November, I made a joke on my Facebook that chronic sleep deprivation and mom guilt would be the death of me. And that statement might still hold true, but what a friend of mine said in response has stuck with me since then. She made a good point about the importance of self-care, and then she said,
"What would it be like to wake up every day to a mom who was totally happy?"
I think sleep deprivation has be the single hardest thing for me in the this whole mom-gig. I have never been drunk, but I imagine it feels a lot like I do when I am tired. I am sloppy and whiney and clumsy. My muscles are stiff and my bones feel arthritic. My eyelids feel like they are one-thousand pounds. I am basically useless. I will rock Ana with desperation. My eyes closed begging the heavens for just a little sleep. Or a lot of sleep, if we're being honest.
I had somewhat acclimated to this chronic fatigue, but then she learned to sleep through the night. Recently, though, she forgot how to sleep again when her teeth decided to grow.
So, here I am again.
I have made a point to remember the words of my friend this go-around, though. I make it a priority to take care of myself, too.
Almost every morning lately, after nights of seeing just about every hour on the clock, I wake up with the sun and my girl. She is talking to herself in her crib. I greet her through the slits of my puffy eyes, and she smiles wildy; so thrilled to see me again. As if we hadn't just spent the night with one another. I open the blinds to let the sun pour in, and we say hello to the baby in the mirror. Then, we nurse. Afterward, I put her in her high chair with a few toys in front of her. Sometimes a cold washcloth for her sore gums. I put a record in the turntable or start spotify to play while I cook myself breakfast - an attempt to make myself feel more human. I make an egg with fried tomatoes and fresh avocado, usually. She fixates on the colored toys, working hard to grasp them and pull them into her mouth. One by one. Curling her toes as she focuses. Tossing each toy on the floor after she is done with them. Sometimes throwing them with vigor. I study the notches in her elbows and knuckles, and laugh at her fluffy mohawk, and the way her eyes cross when she brings her toys closer to her face. I sing along to the music for her. I feel her gaze on me, and I look back at her and spin and dance on the kitchen tile, despite my exhaustion. I give her a good, obnoxious show because I know she loves it. Her mouth always falls open into a massive oval smile. The one that makes her look identical to her father. And I tell her I love her a million and one times.
We eat, and play, and clean together until it is time for her to nap. I rock her with just as much desperation, but instead of closing my eyes, I look into hers, and I talk to her. I rub my nose against her nose, and kiss her forehead until she drifts off.
And then I nap, too.
I cannot say I do not struggle with the sleeplessness, still, but I am really trying. I want to greet each day with that same enthusiasm she greets me with after being up in the night. I want to start her mornings (and mine too) with optimism and joy.
I want her to wake up every day to a mom who is totally happy.
So here I will be, trying day by day, to be just that. Even if it kills me.