Yearning for Rest

Yearning for Rest

My youngest was nearly one. The mythical “sleeping-through” remained mythical. And from the accounts of my new mum girlfriends, we had all been fed the same fantasy. None of us were getting a full eight hours. My very bones were weary with tiredness. It was impossible to fathom how we could continue and yet we all did. I yearned, yearned for rest.

I remember talking to mum about it. How weary I was. My dear mother has a way of seeing herself in every story. So she told me about how tired she was. As an aside, if you’d like to frustrate a person to tears, be a person without a baby telling a person with a baby how tired you are. Of course, new parents don’t have the monopoly on exhaustion, but for the love of all that’s holy – just give it to them. They are honestly only just hanging on.

And while my mothers “empathy” rankled she then said something that gave me pause “sometimes I wish for just a short stay in hospital, nothing serious of course, just a little rest.”

My first reaction was knowing exactly what she meant. A small break, completely out of my control, with the burden of responsibility lifted. And if it had the added bonus of causing those around to worry a little, to take less for granted, all the better. Then I realised how horrible this wish was, how unkind. How arrogant and purposefully naive towards those with actual, terrible illness.

Not to mention, it really wasn’t what either of us wanted. Let’s face it, a hospital stay is never fun. Even when having my babies I was keen to leave as quickly as possible.

We could pretend we craved helplessness but we were romanticising the whole notion. Both us like to be in control, we like to be busy. In fact it’s probably my mothers tendency to say yes (I inherited it) that caused her lack of sleep. Both of us saying yes, yes, yes to all those around and no, later, sometime to ourselves.

And isn’t it awful that we both felt that true resting would only be possible if it were taken out of our hands? That it would only be accepted by those we love if via doctors orders. Perhaps only by ourselves under those conditions. How was it that neither of us felt empowered to make that decision ourselves? To recognise that our health was in jeopardy and that something needed to be done?

The boys are older now. I get a full eight hours sleep. And I don’t feel guilty about taking time out for myself. I am no longer the sole source of food and comfort. Those things can be easily shared and I take advantage of that. I definitely don’t want a hospital stay.

I wish we spent a bit more time preparing new parents for the inevitability of sleep deprivation. Gave them strategies instead of fairy stories. It would have been helpful to know that sleep would be elusive for a number of years and that fact was normal. That my child’s propensity for sleep would have a little to do with my parenting, a little to do with the books I read and a whole lot to do with my child’s personality.

It would have been nice to know that a child who didn’t sleep for ten hours a night was actually quite normal and not an indication of parenting failure.

Perhaps if we did this, we’d have less desperate parents thinking about bed-ridden illness as an escape.

Have you ever felt like this?
That a period of helplessness would just give you a rest?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT

18 thoughts on “Yearning for Rest

  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid says:

    This post is so timely! I just met a friend with a very young baby yesterday and sleep deprivation was a hot topic of conversation. I think although she was well prepared for it, nothing could prepare her for it, if you know what I mean. But she’s fine that it’s her new normal and the only thing she’d love more than to sleep for a hundred years are these precious moments with her bub. She knows that the sleeplessness won’t last forever and neither will this time they have together.
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…Taking Stock – MayMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I think you’re right – it’s very difficult to prepare for the reality of it. You just have to settle into it, accept it, and relish the snuggles.

  2. hugzilla says:

    I recently got one of those fitness tracker thingies and it counts the amount of sleep that I get. I’m in the same stage as you – my kids are older now and I’m getting an easy 8 – 9 hours of sleep every night. And then I see FB posts from a friend with a newborn who is only getting an hour or two of broken sleep every night and I remember those days and shudder. My kids were particularly crap in this department and I am so glad we have moved on from there. I was like a zombie. Definitely not the best version of myself!

    • Robyna says:

      You really do don’t you? It’s like your body moves into recovery mode and your mind is all “hey, we aren’t out of the woods yet!”

  3. Sarah says:

    We are still up at least twice a night between the girls and knowing I’ll be responsible for a newborn again in three short weeks makes me terribly anxious. We both feel like we are running on empty but I’ve also been made feel quite terrible by some for the choice we made to not let the girls cry. It’s a very personal thing how you deal with babes (toddlers and young children!) and their sleep habits. It’s a mantra I come back to so often – listen and support you family or friends’ choices (all over of the choices!) and offer gentle advice if they seek it. Lovely article Bean. It’s made me feel not so alone remembering our chats over E & M’s less than desirable sleeping abilities! Oh and remember when I did land myself in hospital for two nights with rotovirus?! Hideous!!! X

    • Robyna says:

      I know! I did remember that and that was definitely not a good thing. I can’t let my kids cry either. I always think it’s fascinating that as adults we are allowed to share the bed and seek that comfort, yet our kids are expected to silently go to sleep alone. The boys often share the bed now, which is very cute.

  4. Kez @ Awesomely Unprepared says:

    Oh my gosh. I actually WAS in hospital for a procedure recently and a big part of it was that I was required to have some hardcore rest afterwards. I will fully admit that I actually looked forward to the excuse!! While I wasn’t fully comfortable and I did get stir crazy at times, I will not lie about the fact that I took pleasure in being able to nap when I wanted, keep my demanding child at bay when I needed to and being able to binge watch whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
    Not only that but if I DIDN’T do that, I’d get in trouble with the doctors or my husband! Amazing!
    In all seriousness, you’re right. We shouldn’t have to fantasise about hospital to make some down time happen!

    I giggled so hard in the movie Bad Moms when Kristen Bell’s character described a similar fantasy. I had thought I was the only one who’d thought those things!!
    Kez @ Awesomely Unprepared recently posted…Kez Cooked…My Profile

  5. Carolyn says:

    Yep, I have felt that! A rest, someone to bring me food! But I have quickly pushed it away because, of course, I would hate to be sick…and I know I wouldn’t sleep that well out of my own bed. Little sleep, broken nights, are awful. That’s why I ended up feeding in bed and letting them sleep next to me. Whatever it took for us all to get some blessed shut eye. Don’t know if it’s right or wrong but we all survived and that’s the most important thing.
    Carolyn recently posted…Taking Stock: May ’17My Profile

  6. Kylie Purtell says:

    I think that’s the hardest thing about a newborn, the lack of sleep. When I had Zee, Punky was not yet 2 and still didn’t sleep through the night. Punky was a terrible sleeper from birth, and even now at almost 6 she still isn’t great. So I was ridiculously lucky that for the first couple of months of Zee’s life, despite the fact she never slept during the day, she slept wonderfully overnight. I sometimes think her sleep habits in her first 3 months were a gift for having survived Punky, and a way to let me attend to Punky through the night without the added stress of a newborn waking every few hours. I tell this story to new Mum’s (although with less emphasis on how good Zee was) in a bid to illustrate the point that you can know all the things in the world, and try all the advice & suggestions for sleep, but in the end, every child is unique and there is unfortunately no magic bullet that will fix things. And for most kids, sleeping through the night before 12 months is a crock of shit and nothing to be ashamed of or worried about! The only thing that really works is to ask for help when you need it, accept help when it’s offered, and if you’re really struggling shout it to the rooftops so that people will step up and help where they can. Even something as simple as someone leaving a home-cooked meal in a cooler bag on your doorstep (which a beautiful friend of mine did when Zee was a week old) can mean the difference between off-the-charts stress & helplessness and making it through the day with your sanity (mostly) intact.

    I also tell first-time Mum’s that the best thing they can do is to just go with the flow as much as they can (which is really hard if you’re still in shock and worrying that every little thing you’re doing is going to kill them or scar them for life, basically how I felt for the first 8 months of being a Mum) and to talk to trusted friends who are really good at just listening. I know for me, most of the time when I spoke about how I was struggling as a new Mum I didn’t want advice or helpful suggestions of what to do, I just wanted someone to listen and validate my feelings and reassure me that despite how it felt, I was doing a good job.
    Kylie Purtell recently posted…Bloggy Birthdays {and people who just won’t go away} | BloggingMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Oh exactly – you just need someone to listen – sometimes over and over again. I found that talking to girlfriends was always more helpful than chatting to my husband, who wanted to offer solutions. I just needed someone to say “I get it”.

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