It happens to all of us mothers. Even if you have a “good” kid who sleeps for you, you still get tired, exhausted, pooped. Toast. The best way to get over it? Sleep? No. Wine, support from friends, and older kids.
But seriously. How can we survive on so little sleep and live to tell about it? We go through the five stages of exhaustion.
- Hitting snooze might help. This is the initial stage, where your somewhat tired mind seems to think getting a few extra minutes/seconds/milliseconds of sleep will help. You are only a bit delusional. These minutes DID help, you think to yourself, even though you didn’t actually sleep. With a cup of coffee, and a little bit of a positive outlook (read: dreaming about bedtime), you can now power through.
- Headache-inducing tired. This is the next stage, where you feel a horrible headache either on the fringes of your mind or already full-blown, sort of like you went out on a complete bender last night when you didn’t (if you had, it might make it easier to take). You try to take some Advil, drink a few cups of coffee, (Xanax anyone?) but you can’t seem to completely get rid of it. This is also the stage at which you start misplacing things, either on purpose or by accident. Your head hurts so bad that you can’t even think to put away your keys, so later, when you want to find them easily, you struggle to remember where you put them (did they end up in the kids’ toychest again? Now why did that make sense at the time??) The missing items increase as the stages go on, and you give up looking for things, resorting to finding all of the “backups” you leave in areas around the house that you reserve for these instances. So again, you power through, all the while counting the minutes until naptime.
- Oddly happy. The next stage comes on quick, in a weird frame of mind. Suddenly, everything is funny, and it definitely doesn’t help when you have to discipline your children (You pooped on the floor? HAHAHAHA). You laugh so hard you cry, and then suddenly can’t stop that either. Your kids look at you like you are completely and utterly crazy, which you start to think you really are. And again, that might be better (you can go to an asylum? It sounds like a spa retreat right now).
- Delusional and emotional. This is the stage at which you start seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. Was that a kid that cried out? Nope. Just the neighbor’s cat. When your kid starts crying over something random, you join in, at first to sympathize but then you realize, you are truly sad over the dead ant, too. (Or you end up screaming at your kids/significant other/telemarketer over the most ridiculous things. Amazing.) When your significant other or friend or even a neighbor happens upon you, you are in the clothes you have worn for three days, hair unwashed, with your first cup of coffee sitting cold next to you; your kids? Who the hell knows what they are doing because you gave up calling for them hours ago. You start to think having your toenails pulled out one by one sounds like a vacation and has nothing on how tired you are.
- Acceptance. This is the final stage. After all of the bouts of crying, yelling, several Advil, cups of coffee (XANAX) before 8 am, and a little bit later (when IS the appropriate time to start drinking?!?!), glasses of wine, you have come to accept just how tired you really are. You agree to everything and anything (sure, honey, paint yourself with war paint and dance naked around the house and sacrifice your sibling), just as long as you can sit like a zombie until the reinforcements come in. Who those reinforcements are, who the hell cares. Unsuspecting neighbor who stopped by to say hello and introduce themselves? Care to come in for a cup of coffee? Great. Now, just give me five minutes to hide in my room by myself…
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a newborn or a toddler (or a 4 year old who somehow just refuses to sleep through the night), we must come to the realization that we will probably not sleep for the next 18 years. And provided you resign yourself to that early on, you can reach stage 5 quicker and skip the pain. (Ahahahahah, yeah right. I am at stage 4 currently, so don’t believe for one minute that you will skip the agony. Sorry.)