Parenthood brings a level of tiredness that can be insurmountable. It’s hard to catch up on sleep under normal conditions, and even harder if you sabotage your sleep as I’m known to do. Henning was out of town last week. When he goes out of town, I hardly get any sleep. Not for the reasons you might think, though. Margaret sleeps through the night almost always, and when she doesn’t it’s usually a go pat-her-on-the-back-for-a-few minutes situation. I suck at keeping house, so there’s not a ton that I try to do in the evenings related to that. The dishes are done, the counters wiped down, and the sink washed out. Done. Toys are put away, hopefully by Margaret, but sometimes I’m not up for the struggle, and I do it myself. Still, not exhaustive work. I might fold some laundry after Margaret is in bed (while I watch Netflix), but I’m not trying to make sure the house is spotless. I love writing this blog, but if you take a peek at the archives, you’ll see I’m not exactly blowing up the Internet. I might do blog work, but my brain turns off around 9:30pm when it comes to writing. So, why don’t I get adequate sleep while Henning is away? There are three reasons:
1. I just don’t sleep well when he’s not here (awwww, that’s so sweet).
2. Our cat is a huge jerk and loves me even more when Henning isn’t around. He lays on me all night and purrs. All. Night. Long. I’m in constant fear of waking up with cat ass in my face.
3. Left to my own devices (my iPhone and iPad), I’ll stay up to the wee hours farting around on social media and (maybe) reading about current events. I might do some online shopping. I’ll take a million Buzz Feed quizzes to figure out what kind of mom I am (a cool one), what region of the United States I should live in (the Pacific Northwest), and how much street smarts I have (not much).
When Henning returns, I’m a wreck, and it’s all my fault. It takes a week for me to get back to relative normal, and Henning is a saint and lets me sleep in on the weekends. While I’m recovering from this self-induced sleep deprivation, I find myself doing crazy things that I don’t even think I did while in the depths of the newborn haze. Somehow self-induced sleep deprivation is different from baby-induced sleep deprivation. It’s certainly not worse than the baby version, but it comes with a healthy dose of self-guilt, because really, I should know better. Please tell me I’m not the only one whose brain switches to some weird autopilot when there’s so much tired you fantasize about sleeping.
Here’s how my brain fails me:
- Go to the kitchen sink with a measuring cup to get water to make something that requires measuring water. Squirt some dish soap into the measuring cup instead.
- Go to the grocery store with a very specific list that I made, which details what snacks we’re contributing to Margaret’s classroom and organic frozen cauliflower (Margaret loves cauliflower. Strange for a toddler, I know). Forget all those items, but I do pick up organic hard shell tacos and organic California-blend frozen vegetables, which does contain cauliflower. Basically the same thing, and I just love buying things that say “organic.”
- Go back to the grocery store in the evening to get the very specific items and the organic frozen cauliflower. This is after dinner, and Henning is putting Margaret to bed. I’m all by myself. So, naturally I detour to take pictures of hilarious plaques that are in the home goods section. I laugh while I’m taking these pictures, and mumble out loud, “these are f-ing hilarious.” I’m on the verge of cry laughing. Shoppers who could be featured on People of Wal-Mart are staring at me.
- Push the grocery cart out to the car after successfully taking about five hilarious pictures and getting the very specific items on my list (they didn’t have organic cauliflower; sure, I could get conventional cauliflower, but I’m tired and sticking to the list this time). I lift my foot to put the break on the cart like it’s a stroller. I realize mid-stride that it’s not a stroller and that I have my leg cocked at a weird angle. I try to recover: I just like doing a high step every once in a while. People of Wal-Mart are still staring.
- Open the wrong can of beans. But really, these cans look VERY similar, right? Reading takes a lot of energy and who labels cans like this? I’ll argue that even a well-rested person could get duped by this poor labeling.
- Complete inability to make coherent small talk. Even on a good day, I’m not that great at small talk. Someone asks me how our summer is going and for the life of me I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to respond… “good, busy, hot” (I’m just saying words now, trying to land on the right response). I forget to ask how her summer is going. It’s awkward.
- Forget if I’ve fed this dude, so I feed him (again). I realize that I’ve probably already fed him when he doesn’t eat all of what’s likely his third meal of the day. That and the smelly and VERY audible gas he now has.
- Then there are the things that go without saying, but I’ll say them anyway. I try to put a cereal box away in the refrigerator and then can’t figure out where to put the milk. I put hand soap on my toothbrush (may or may not realize this until the toothbrush is in my mouth). In the shower, I can’t remember if I’ve washed my hair; my hair is pulled back in a bun and not even wet. Or I decide not to wash my hair and pull it back in a bun, and then I get my hair wet in the shower, squirt some shampoo into my hand, and start lathering before realizing something isn’t quite right. (Apparently my default mode is to clean something.) I can’t find my phone…while I’m on my phone.
- Forget to send in the very specific items for snack for Margaret’s classroom. I text her teacher to say that I’ll bring them up to the school later. She says no worries and that I can bring them tomorrow. I put the very specific items next to the front door. There’s no way we can forget them when they’re right there, right? Right!? We shall see tomorrow. I’m still recovering.
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