Anyone who knows me personally knows that sleep is incredibly important to me. I can do it almost anywhere and at any time; laying down or sitting up; all alone or with many people around. Usually, others watch and laugh, I don't care. If there is a toss up between a good time and a good night's sleep, you'd better believe that I'm choosing the latter. I have blown off many a fun time to catch some Zzz. When it's time for bed I am extremely happy. I welcome it like a long lost lover who's searched far and wide to find me and now we are in the same place at the same time, with no limit as to how much we will give in to each other. As a matter of fact, I may take a nap and finish this article when I wake. ;)
As a teen, I don't recall having much control over my sleeping pattern. I went to sleep at bed-time and rose when the alarm rang or when my mom said that it was time to get up. I grew up in a military household and many things were timed, such as taking a shower, doing the dishes, watering the grass and sleep. I'm unsure of everyone else, but it created the slightest sense of anxiety within me. Therefore, when I was a little older and lived on my own I pretty much did whatever the hell I wanted. I had no one to answer to. So I didn't do the dishes for days, no laundry until I had no clean underwear, I moved to New York - so no more grass, I would take the most luxurious showers and baths. Then there was sleep. It was endless and when I awakened, I felt the most refreshed ever. Responsibilities soon chased me though and I had to enroll in school and get myself a job. Naturally, I couldn't sleep through these things, nor during the preparation of them. Enter new people in my life and that meant more time spending with them and even less time sleeping. My life was pretty calm until I met Sir. It was the first time that I was introduced to people who didn't really sleep at all. I was slightly horrified and intrigued. They were brokers and had to be up and in the office by 4am. It was a luxurious lifestyle for them and it paid to dedicate that kind of time to work and life. I was just a bystander. I removed myself from it every chance I could which was kind of difficult, yet I managed.
By the time I became a mother at twenty-six, I wasn't sleeping for different reasons. There is nothing like a baby to make you lose all the sleep in the world. I wasn't prepared. I watched many shows, read many books, tried to heed advice from friends; still I wasn't anywhere near ready for this lack of sleep. People think you only go running when the baby cries...L I E S. When they whine, when they laugh, when they are too young to move, when they can crawl, when they are in the tub, when they are too quiet you are on guard. Many days I felt burnt out completely, but I was young and just did it. Not sure how I would fair now at thirty-nine. Back then, I felt like I was constantly losing the battle of "Stay the Fuck Up - or your baby will hit the floor or put a knife in the socket". Those were my actual worries. I guess I watched too much TV. The juggle of motherhood, marriage, family and life took a daily toll on your girl.
I remember being so happy to get my license and gaining independence. We lived in Staten Island then and wheels were important, especially with a baby. However, having a vehicle meant making time to do things like pick up or drop off other people's children, or other people period. More time away from sleep. At one point, I couldn't take it and I'd literally pull over on any given road and recline my seat and go to sleep. Yes, with my baby in the back seat. I'd lock the doors and set my alarm on my phone and take a nap. I was fed up and would just give in. This caused many an argument, but it was far better than driving tired which I also did a lot of. I'm not proud, but it felt imperative in that moment.
There were many times where I'd be so excited to attend a party. A night out with adults! Then, I'd end up on a banquet in a club or lounge covered up with my coat taking a snooze while everyone else drank and partied around me. I didn't feel bad either, I deserved it and I needed to be refreshed when we got home and Sir would be asleep and our son would be awake. Some of our friends had kids too. I wondered how they did it, but never asked. There was even a time when I went to Miami for a bachelorette weekend and I opted to leave the club early and go back to my quiet hotel room for an awesome night of uninterrupted siesta. It was the best decision I ever made at the time. Thanks Tashanna for understanding. When I got back home, it was life as usual. Get the fuck up.
As my son got older, I got sleep or didn't. It depended on the day. As life continued I had many a reason to stay awake. Divorce was the roughest time. I felt so sleep deprived I thought I might kill. It made me so angry. It was like constant anger. Now that I think of it, marriage kept me awake. When the house was empty and I was home alone (long after my son would be in bed) I'd sit up and wait for what seemed like oblivion, knowing I'd be tired the next day at work. I just kept telling myself that I'd get better sleep later in the week. I'd sleep on the train during my commute, which bothers many people. It's New York after all, but you do what you gotta do. I'd exhaust myself with thought mostly and in between thought I was in constant motion. Trying to be and do better just because. It was a slow death.
Now that I live alone, just my son and I (years later, remember he's a whole thirteen year old), we have bed times. There is preparation as there always has been, but with the preparation is a true appreciated silence. We have our own times to prepare. He likes to sing in the shower for close to an hour and when he is asleep I like to soak in the tub and listen to music or read. I keep our spaces clean, provide dessert or water and cozy bedding. I teach him that if he wants to be great, he has to start with a great night's rest. Why have 40 winks when you can have 50 and then 50 more? When I do not sleep well, I wake up achy and cranky. My day just isn't right until I get right with the insides of my eyelids. When I do get a good amount of sleep, I feel incredible. I can do anything! That's the way I'd like to feel all the time.
So, don't listen to people when they say things like, "I'll sleep when I'm dead". Not sleeping will surely kill you. It can cause all kinds of set backs and interruptions that you don't want. Trust me, you aren't missing much. Schedule your time right and schedule sleep in. Prepare for it. Shut the shades, play the softest tunes or listen to silence and get in bed under the covers. It's okay to go night night.
Love J A S