The night drive

Wednesday night, midnight: I was driving around Sydney streets in a last-ditch attempt to get the toddler in the back seat to go to sleep. She’d been awake since 9:30. I needed petrol so I pulled into a busy-ish service station on Parramatta Road and, in my pyjamas, filled up, then paid. The toddler was wide-eyed.
It took over half an hour, but it worked. She finally drifted off. I should add, this is the good sleeper of the pair. And it was only because she is prone to snoozing in the car that I even tried it. With all the sleep issueswe had with her sister back in the bad old days, we never resorted to nocturnal driving. I doubt it would have worked.
It’s been a hellish couple of sleep weeks, thanks to a cold and cough moving through the family. Day naps have been wishy-washy, night-times have been atrocious. It’s been babies who won’t go to sleep, or go to sleep for a couple of hours then wake up screaming. Babies who need dummies (bloody dummies) to be found, even though there are four in the cot. Babies who are standing up in bed and need help lying down again. Babies who are so tired the next day that they nap in the pram on a morning walk, which means they won’t go to sleep at nap time, which means they are so tired by bedtime they can’t sleep. Fun, fun, fun. 

Then there’s the behavioural stuff. Screaming and whining and pulling hair and gouging eyes and throwing bowls full of food and pushing each other over. Whingeing to be picked up picked up picked up, screaming to be put down put down put down. Crying for a snack, throwing the snack across the room when it’s not the right sort. Oh, God, the fun.

I was listening to a radio interview the other day and somewhere in the middle of it the show host talked about the years when the interviewee met her partner, got married, had babies, went back to work, changed careers etc etc etc. “Having babies” was glossed over in the arc of this woman’s life. Well, not so much glossed over but with her children now teenagers, it was obvious those early days of babies and sleep issues and tantrums and poo and spew and relentless slog were a thing of the past, and that it was all just one fragment in the big picture.

And it made me think that when I’m in the throes of all this little kid stuff, bogged down in the minutiae of the every day, I should try and remember this is just one part of it. Soon, though hopefully not too soon, it will be over and we’ll be onto the next phase. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines of a soccer field, or drowning in boredom waiting for my kid’s turn at the piano recital, or nursing someone through big exams, or helping them move into their first flat, or cracking a bottle of bubbly to celebrate a new job or watching on (please let me) as they have their own babies. And when I start thinking like that, if I can stop weeping long enough, it makes a couple of weeks (months? years?) of sleep deprivation seem a little less catastrophic.

Greer Worsley is a fabulous writer, incredibly creative and a regular HipMum contributor. Follow her on www.typicallyred.blogspot.com

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