Sleeping is that wonderful thing you take for granted in your 20’s and 30’s. I remember when I used to sleep; it was awesome. For all the women out there in their 40’s and 50’s, you know what I’m talking about.
Before I became a mother, I used to sleep at least ten hours a night. Seriously. I would teach a full day, work with drama kids after school, have a little dinner, and I would crash by 8:30 or 9:00 and sleep all the way through to the alarm at 7:00. I would roll out of bed, grab a shower and be out of the house in 20 minutes, dressed and ready to go. I didn’t have to get anyone up or dressed, didn’t have to feed anyone, or make any lunches; it really was all about me. I didn’t realize what I had. Back then, people used to ask me, “how do you do it?” and I would respond “I sleep; I sleep a lot.”
Now, all of that is a distant, fuzzy memory, made fuzzier due to lack of sleep. When people ask me now, “how do you do it?” I pause and try to remember the question.
Once we got Em, my sleeping patterns changed. I was no longer a sound sleeper. I used to wake when she rolled over or breathed heavy, and she even had her own room. I was nervous and over-protective, as I believe most new moms are. She would wake around midnight for a bottle and a diaper change. Of course, I would wake with her and love those moments when everything was quiet; I would rock her with a bottle and she and I would just make eye contact for 30 minutes straight. No sound, just the sucking on a bottle or some cooing. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
Now, things are very, very different. Emily is 10 and sleeps through the night; my husband is 41 and sleeps through the night. I, however, do not. From talking to my friends, it appears this is an all-too-common phenomenon that happens to (sigh) middle-aged women. Somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 a.m., we wake up for no reason at all, and stay awake for at least an hour, if not two. We try to go back to sleep, but it is pointless. We lay there, thinking of all the important things that absolutely need to be taken care immediately. We worry, we run numbers, we make lists, we do all this thinking. Then, if by some miracle, we fall asleep around 5:00 a.m., we wake an hour later, only to realize everything we were worrying about was absolutely non-essential minutia. Turns out, cleaning the lint trap in the dryer could wait until the weekend. Go figure.
Also, it is now absolutely impossible for me to sleep-in. I could be totally exhausted, but at 6:30, I am up and awake. I need no reverie or rooster; my body is all too ready to torture me with long-term sleep deprivation. It’s like a Scientologist moved into my brain when I turned 40.
I have read of some remedies to this sleep deprivation issue, but they seem medieval and cruel. One involves removing caffeine from one’s diet. Right. Another advises cutting out alcohol. Seriously? One even suggests working out. Clearly, these are not for me.
(Fun Fact – I bumped into a friend who asked if I used melatonin. I explained that I don’t have trouble falling asleep, only staying asleep. She then went on to extol the benefits of it, and how she gives it to her children for long car rides. I am sure I looked horrified, as I think my mouth dropped; she said defensively, “well, my parents used it on me so it must be safe.” I told her I played with mercury as a kid, but it didn’t mean I was going to let my daughter do the same. I think I pissed her off…)
Men don’t seem to have this problem. The fact that my husband sleeps soundly through the night is only one more thing on my “It is absolutely unfair being female” list I started a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a girl, however there are a few things that tend to get under my skin after 46 years.
LIST OF UNFAIR THINGS ABOUT BEING FEMALE
Number 1 – Height Advantage. My husband has at least 10 inches on me, and it pisses me off. I sound like such a freaking stereotype when I ask, “Honey, could you reach that jar for me?” or “Kriner, can you get that off the shelf?” I keep thinking I should be in heels and an apron, stirring something.
Number 2 – Strength. Again, sounding like a helpless little fawn when I ask him to open jars or lift things. It doesn’t help that he is so willing to do it; he actually smiles and says, “There you go, hon.” What a jerk, right?
Number 3 – Periods. I don’t expect that men should have a lifetime of them, or even a decade, but just one period. I think men should have one menstrual cycle in their lives just to see how…just to know how…well, I’ll leave it at that.
Number 4 – Pay. Like that’s ever gonna change, right? Thank you RNC, may I have another?
Number 5 – Sleeping.
My mother says that it will get better when I hit my 60’s, but by then, I’ll be going to bed at 7:00 and getting up at the crack of 4:00 to hit the Early Bird Special so really, what’s so different? I suppose it could be worse. I mean, I do have hot flashes to look forward to. I bet that will make the list at some point. Alright, please excuse me because I have to go and clean out the lint trap.