I spent the first three quarters of my life sleeping. I was born a sleeper, according to my mother. As a small child, I loved my sleep; however, my memory prior to age 10 is somewhat unreliable. I guess I will have to believe what those around me have chosen to share with me over the years regarding my sleep habits. As an adolescent, sleeping in was something I looked forward to, therefore having a part time job with early mornings was problematic. I opted for afternoon, evening shifts. I would agree to anything just as long as it didn’t start before noon!
Let me clarify, I loved sleeping, but I didn’t love having to go to bed. If you had looked up the definition of Night Owl in the dictionary, my picture would have definitely been on the page at that point in time. Of course the later I stayed awake, the later I slept in. There were some days that I didn’t get out of my bed until dinner time; I would shower, eat and go out and repeat.
When I became a mother for the first time in my mid-twenties. I was so happy to have a baby that loved sleeping just as much as I did. I had only ever heard about those babies that never wanted to sleep and got up many times throughout the night. I was one of the lucky ones. I had one of those first born that, if he did wake before me he would tip toe into my bedroom and crawl into my bed, would just fall back asleep curled up in my arms. How splendid it was.
Ten years later at the age of thirty-six, I had a second child. I again was lucky: he ate, he slept, he needed changing, and repeat! I had learned a few tricks from being a second-time mother and felt I was much better at it this time around. I was relaxed and knew that I was the only one in charge. My age and confidence witnessed by those around me sent the message to everyone that there was absolutely no need for advice. My rule was if I want to change his routine I will. I was going to still do all the things I wanted to do as well as go to all the places I wanted to go to and a baby wasn’t going to be the boss of my time. It worked, with minimal hiccups; he would sleep anywhere and settle in any situation. Unfortunately, this didn’t last and as soon as he was moved from the crib to a bed it was over. “Roar, Roar, Roar,” or “Mummy wake up,” is what I wake up to everyday of the week, that’s Monday to Sunday at varying times before 7 am. It is a huge adjustment for me and to be clear, I am whining about it. It is a lucky thing that the boy is so adorable and sweet.
At forty years old, I work a 9-5 job 5 days a week, commute a minimum of 2 hours a day, unless of course it is a bad weather day; then it increases in time. Meal planning is for 6 people, time is spent running children around and helping with school work, and on top of it all I take college courses and am contemplating the pursuance of an undergraduate degree; saying life feels overwhelming is an understatement. Wait for it; drum roll……everyone I live with is male.
I have more gray hair, I now resort to make up to cover up the always present bags under my eyes and am a worse nail biter than I have ever been in my life. I feel tired all the time and sleep is a memory. It doesn’t matter if I get to bed before 10pm; I still feel like I haven’t slept, due to the fact that I have had to get up several times through the night to urinate. The bladder that never seems to want to empty, I’ve even tried cutting out liquid after 6pm. I am a thirsty woman and I need my liquids. I go to bed worrying about many things big and small, I wake while it is still dark and worry some more. I make mental mind lists of what needs to be done the next day, my partner needs to practically beg to get my attention, and repeat.
Is this middle age or is it just representative of my life at this time, will it ever end, what have I gotten myself into? I know the answers already, but it feels good to get it off my chest. Only I can control what’s going on in my life and how I feel about it. Therefore, I have made a deal with my mind to allow myself the moments of my age and natural occurrences that come along with it. Am I pre-menopausal? Maybe I am maybe I’m not, do I need a Doctor to confirm this, No!
I do not want to be one of those women who just decide one day that it’s over and stop caring how I look or how I feel. I want to be one of those women who when people find out your actual age they think, Wow. I will continuously re-develop my exercise plan, so that I can manage it, but still have time for it. I will eat as healthy as I am able, most of the time, and I will cheat on that healthy eating once in a while and remain guilt free. I will explore natural ways to feel good in my body and enjoy my boys and all the life energy they share with me on a day-to-day basis. I will start to think about my future as a grandparent, the grandchildren I will chase and play with, all because I chose to take care of myself. I know it is at least a decade away from being a possibility, but time seems to have escaped me for the past decade, so it will be here before I know it.
By dreaming of my future it will allow me to look ahead to when my boys have left the nest and I then have all the time in the world for my partner. The vacations we can’t afford now, because kids are very, very, very expensive… will be carefully thought out and planned just the way we like it. We will be able to sleep in, but there will be no point because we will want to make the most out of our days together.
Sleep is a foggy memory right now at this point in time, but that’s okay. I pack a lot in a day and I should feel good about that. If I wasn’t tired I would be a superhero and my children would be the villains! I like to think that I work backwards; I started out old and I will end young.
– Floris Appleby