Tag Archives: SLEEP

Curative Properties Of The Sea

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20140311-212106.jpgEvery time I look at the ocean I fall in love at first sight.

Every single time.

The sight of the salty waves lapping at sand, rock, or cliff around my native state is a balm for heart and soul.  I’ve gone to the ocean with friends and lovers, and spent many hours on the beach with my dog.  I’ve rushed to the ocean with a spirit so broken I feared I’d never be whole again.  But then I’m there, with gulls soaring in the air that stirs my hair, and I understand the curative properties of the sea.

I didn’t get sleep last night.  My husband worked until midnight and I woke up when he came in.  Despite the fistful of melatonin I’d gobbled before bed, I couldn’t fall back to sleep no matter how I turned or breathed or what I chanted.

But let me back up.

My son had a tantrum before bed.  In general he’s doing a lot better with his behavior.  We’ve seen some maturity.  Sometimes he even puts himself in a time out under the covers of his bed instead of lashing out at us.  So, progress is being made.  Baby steps. . .

But he had this tantrum and it rattled my cage.  So, in the middle of the night, there I was, restless, unable to sleep, and freaking myself out questioning how I’d gone wrong in raising this little boy.

But let me back up again.

Jack has got in trouble at school.  Not big trouble or anything, but the teacher wrote us a couple times to say he said something inappropriate, etc.  Jack’s side of the story is that kids are picking on him, and that they look for any little thing to tell on him and get him into trouble.  His teacher is a bit of a rigid bitch old school, and Jack has a hard time speaking up for himself, so I can both sides of the situation.  But Jack is my KID, so if he is getting picked on, my big, bad mama bear buttons will be pressed.

Jack comes home like a ticking time bomb at the end of the day.  Common Core (the new and improved way of educating our children) is definitely from the seventh circle of hell, IMHO.  He sits there “learning” all day, and then comes home with all sorts of pent up energy, frustration, and angst.  Having social issues with his peers is not helpful.  And since they don’t really get a chance to practice their social skills through play or exploration, it is extra-not-helpful.

But to go back even further, I should let you know I’ve been having this weird pain in my abdomen- a piercing stab to the right and above my navel, under my rib.  It comes on in a dramatic pop when I sneeze, laugh, or stretch.  It’s gotten worse over the past six months or so, and I haven’t had it checked.

So, there I was in the middle of the night, wide awake and fuming about being wide awake.  I started worrying about Jack, and before I knew it I was in a full-blown panic attack with racing heart and everything, convincing myself that the pain in my side was some sort of giant tumor or ulcer.

I decided to go to the doctor today, which requires me to take a half day out of work, since my doctor is at the opposite end of the state from my job.  I was in a tizzy about canceling my clients and using benefit time, but I knew I needed to see her.

It takes an hour to get there, which is about as far as you can drive in my state without reaching another state.  My doctor used to be a lot closer and more conveniently located, but she moved offices about three years ago.  I love her and she is a wonderful physician, so I go the distance.

She palpated me, ordered an ultrasound, hugged me and gave me a script for some sleeping pills.

I left feeling better.  The ultrasound is in two weeks.  My doctor doesn’t think it is anything serious.  Maybe just a hernia.  No biggles.

But let’s get back to the ocean.

Since my doctor’s office is about ten minutes away from the ocean, I took the drive and parked by the sea wall.  My mind argued with me the whole time, telling me I should be getting the kids from daycare and racing home to make dinner.  But as I stepped out of the car, the ocean sang to me.  Take a walk, it said.  Self care is important and the world will not stop turning if you take a walk.  

So I did.

20140311-212134.jpgI walked along the sea wall and it was a blissful release valve to the pressure cooker of my tortured head.  With hardly a cloud in the sky, I could see across the bay to the islands, and miles out over the ocean to the thin horizon where sky met sea.  The water was calm and glassy, gently rattling the round rocks at the base of the sea wall.

My neurosis blew away on the breeze.  It was a mental massage.

The drive home was relaxing.  I filled my prescription.  Then I picked up greasy take out without a care in the world, rationalizing the fat and calories by telling myself I would cut up apple slices to serve with it.

My husband picked up the kids and we met up at home.  They played outside and came in with flushed, happy faces, greeted me with hugs.

We ate burgers, nuggets, and fries (and apple slices) together, then spent the rest of the night reading stories, since Jack had lost his TV privileges for that tantrum.  It was tranquil.

And all the while, in the back of my mind, I hear those gentle waves.  My heart wiggles a bit, as though I’ve just fallen in love for the first time and nothing else could ever get me down.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/daily-prompt-heat/

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Somebody Needs More Sleep– The Anti-Hero-Mom’s Song To Daylight Savings

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20140310-131457.jpgIt’s six, but to my body it still feels like five.  Like clockwork, Emily is up in her crib, right next to my side of the bed, chirping, “Mommy!  Mommy!” in that sweet, little voice she has first thing in the morning.

“More night-nights,” I moan in that deep, drunken-hobo voice I have at any given time.

I think about that post, Mommy, Somebody Needs You, that recently went viral.  If you haven’t read it, it is worth reading.  It’s a mother’s ode to being at her children’s beck and call and what a blessing it is to be a mom.

For those of you who know me, that last sentence miiiiiggghhht sound a bit cynical.  But I’m actually not being cynical here.  Being a mom is the greatest gift and the most amazing journey I’ve experienced as a human on this planet.

So, I get it.

At six (which still feels like five) my two-year-old needs me to roll over, hug her, give her nursies and get up to make her oatmeal.

Then my six-year-old trundles in with his blankie and lego ship and he needs to cuddle.  Then he needs pancakes.  Then he needs me to referee between him and his little sister who has attacked his lego creation.

The fact I have these two miracles and all their needs is awesome.  It is awesome they need me, because their needs make me a mom.  

But you know what?  I’m freaking tired.

There. I said it.

Mommy wants 20 minutes of sleep, uninterrupted by cartoons, or crying, or the smell of a soaking wet diaper right next to her face.  Mommy is worn out from the relentless hum and drum of all that working motherhood has to offer.  Mommy doesn’t want to make a fricking bowl of oatmeal.  Mommy doesn’t want to exercise her WWF skills to change the sopping diaper about which her two year old could care less.  Mommy doesn’t want to pick up legos and put them back together.

There are a rash of viral posts about cherishing every moment of motherhood, appreciating the downs because they are just as much of a blessing as the ups.  Overall, I agree with their basic premise.  Slow down, smell the roses, cherish your children, etc.

These posts are great and worth reading, if you haven’t already.  They are beacons of grace and light, which counteract beacons of vinegar like me.  The moms who wrote those posts have got motherhood (and blogging) down pat.  They are maybe at a higher level of self-actualization than me.  Those posts are full of acceptance and humility to which I might only aspire.

But I’m not going to read them anymore.

I screw up a million and three times per day, and I know it, and I lament it deep into the hours of the night.  So, I don’t really need to read about the three words I am saying to destroy my son’s sense of self, or the eight things I am doing that will make my daughter become anorexic, or how I’ve severed trust with my children forever because of the times I raised my voice, or how if I tell my children to “hurry up” in the morning I will one day regret it big time because we’re all gonna’ blow.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids like crazy cakes.  Crazy cakes I tell you!

My daughter’s chubby little starfish hands kneading playdough melt me into a puddle on the floor and I seep through the cracks right down into the cellar, where thankfully it is cold enough for me to re-solidify so I can go back up and ensure she does not devour said playdough.

Watching my son in his karate class almost always almost brings me to tears, as I watch him punch and kick with confidence and enthusiasm, as I watch him do everything he is told for a solid hour and feel like oh my, there is hope!

My children take my breath away, and knock my feet right out from under me all the fricking time by doing the slightest things:  Jack leaves a sticky note on my computer that says, “I love you mama,” or brings home a paper he wrote about groundhogs and I am blinded by his brilliance.  Emily sings to her baby dolls or says, “Missed you mommy,” when I come home at the end of the day, and I am certain I’ve glimpsed Nirvana.

So, I get it.  I get how important and amazing it is to be a mom.  I get how fleeting and precious it all is, and honestly, I am doing my very best to treasure and be utterly present in every moment.

It is hard.  There is an almost bi-polar experience to parenting for me.  One moment I sigh about how amazing Jack and Em are, and how lucky I am, then the next moment I am sighabout the desperate, deep despair of my exhaustion and frustration at the relentless pace of it all.  I happen to have a very helpful and supportive husband who does more than his share, and I still feel overwhelmed.

While I respect those blogs, and think they are thoughtful and well written, having someone else suggest I should be enjoying it more, doing it right-er, and appreciating stuff at a higher level is not helpful.  Maybe there are moms out there who need to know and hear those things, but for me, it deepens the self-depreciation when I forget to be thankful for a mili-second.

Expectations for moms are already ridiculously high.  I know I am not alone when I say that I am in an almost constant state of exhaustion and falling-apart from trying to keep everything all together and rise for my children.  It isn’t just moms either.  Most of the dads I know (including my amazing husband) are also wringing their hands, wondering, how do I do it all?  

It makes me wonder what we parents need to hear and see and have to keep us going.

Personally, having a Huffpost article tell me I am not meeting those standards because there was one week when we ate Happy Meals twice, or because of that one time I corrected my child before connecting with them is not what I need.  Like I said, I generally agree and respect all of that stuff, and I’m trying my best.  But what about when I fail?  What about when I fall short of the mark?  What about when I wake up early and just don’t want to be needed for a while?  Does that make me a bad mom?

I think not.

It is easy to convince myself I am a sucky mom.  I’m not.  I’m a good mom who loves her family whole heartedly, but I’m not supermom.  I also do not believe striving to be the perfect parent or feeling frustrated with our own fatigue or limitations are mutually exclusive issues.  Modern parenting is a package deal filled with some interesting conundrums, and it is a task in and of itself to try to integrate everything without going cray-cray, or at the very least putting ourselves way down.

Maybe you can relate.

So, while I am speaking my truth here, I would also like to take a moment to let you know if you feel less than positive about Daylight Savings and how it affects your children (particularly in regard to how your children affect your sleep), that is perfectly okay.  If for some reason you weren’t thrilled by your two year old pulling off her diaper after her nap and finger painting with the contents, then you are perfectly normal.  If you lost your spedoinkle a bit after your kid’s third tantrum of the day and forgot to be blissed out, you’re just fine.  And if you don’t have the moxie for floor time with your baby after a 12 hour work day, you are not going to parenting hell.

What about if you yelled at your kid?  Hug them, apologize and move on.

Cut yourself a little slack.  How come there are no articles out there telling us that?  Because that is one I would read.  Through compassion and acceptance of the self we generate lovingkindness for others.

We are only human, after all.  And sometimes we just need more sleep.

Does Daylight Savings affect your little one?  And what would you like to hear as a parent to help motivate you and help you feel supported in doing your best?  

Thursday Truth– Sleep

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The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying:  “Sleep is the best meditation.”

I could not agree more.

This week has been insane in the membrane, insane in the brain!  Poor, dear Jack has had a stomach bug that turned into a intestinal issue and has plagued our home with late nights, loads of laundry, and random runs to the pharmacy to purchase anti-emetics, anti-diarreahals, and gatorade.  Pleading contests to get him to drink sips of ANYTHING have ensued as he was dehydrating and, truth be told, I really did not want to have to pay the hefty co-pay to bring him to the ER and have him hydrated.

“Well,” my husband said, “If it is a matter of life and death. . .  we shouldn’t think about our deductible.”

“It’s not a matter of life and death!”  I snapped.  “It’s a matter of he needs to drink some goddamn juice!”

Sigh.  I’m tired.

As you can imagine, it has left very little room for time to myself, other than when I am asleep.

OMG, I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep right now.  Unfortunately, for me these days, anything past 6:00 a.m. is basically considered “sleeping in”.  Emily is quite the early bird.

And I hope that my desire for sleep is not an indication that I am getting sick.

I think it is really just my need to get some rest and be with my own subconscious and no one else.  Although some of my dreams have been pretty funky lately.  The other night I had a dream that a client came in to see me in my office after drinking bleach.  She then proceeded to whip out a bottle of whiskey and swig from it while trying to light my office on fire.

It is not often that I dream about work.  And I don’t really interpret my dreams.  The Dalai Lama was also quoted as saying something to the effect of “If we spend so much time interpreting our dreams, there would be no time left for dreaming.”  I read something like that in a Dalai Lama calendar once, and I can’t remember the exact quote, but I took it to mean, be here now, don’t worry so much about figuring out every detail about your dreams.  It’s all good.

Meh.  I’ve never really been a fan of dream interpretation anyway.  What I do know is that when I start dreaming about work it means that I am tired and overwhelmed and working too hard, even in my sleep.

So, this rambling stream-of-conscienceness post is basically saying, good-night and sweet dreams.  I’m going to go to bed a little early tonight and, er, meditate.

Momaste and big love, ya’all!!

Everything You Need To Know About Sleep Training (sort of)

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Sleeping like a baby. . .

Sleeping like a baby. . .

Hey new moms:  My baby, Emily, slept through the night for the past seven nights in a row! Jealous much?

Don’t be. She is almost 18 months old, and I have not had a single full night of sleep in all of that time. I shuffle through life in a perpetual state of hazy, memory-impaired sleep deprivation. I identify with zombies in a whole new light that is not quite wholesome.

These past nights when she didn’t wake to nurse, I still struggled with my own sleeplessness.  I woke up, waited for her, drumming my fingers on my pillow.

I’m not sure if I feel thrilled she is sleeping though the night, or offended that she doesn’t want me.

Our son, Jack, didn’t sleep through the night until he was 18 months either. He’s nearly six now- a great sleeper with the exception of the occasional nightmare. We did everything “by the book” and failed miserably when it came to sleep.

I feel qualified to speak about sleep issues because of the experiences we had with our Jack.  Some families are blessed with the stereotypical newborn who sleeps nonstop.  Jack was what you could call a “non-sleeper”.  He was a very alert baby, forever people watching at the great cafe of life.

As a first time mom, I was not educated on cluster feeding and why it is normal and necessary to breast feeding in those early weeks.  I cringe to admit there were times that I probably should have had Jack on the boob, but didn’t because he had just eaten or “it wasn’t time yet.”  Another part of our perfect sleep storm was a tongue tie caused insufficient latch and poor milk transfer at the breast.  He also had acid reflux.  The poor guy was always fussy and hungry and awake.

We sorted out feeding and reflux issues, then Jack was in his own bed in his own room at nine weeks of age, as was recommended by his pediatrician. This did not help. He continued waking to nurse at least three times per night.

At six months, we tried the “cry it out” method. Every night for weeks, we listened to him cry and cry for hours on end in the middle of the night. We were urged by the books and his pediatrician to be consistent, keep at it. We were told we must be doing something “wrong” or “inadvertently reinforcing his negative sleep behavior.”

To this day, I swear we didn’t do either of those things, and that it was just Jack’s persistent temperament that kept us up all night.

After months of a losing battle, we couldn’t take anymore.  Desperate for some quiet and sleep, we brought him into our bed and co-slept. Not only did we all sleep well, but I loved waking up next to his smiling face in the morning.  We co-slept until he was 18 months and magically started sleeping through the night in his own crib.

It kind of goes to show you can screw up at almost every turn and still come out okay.

When Emily came along, I proclaimed I wanted nothing to do with sleep training.

By then, I knew that like stranger anxiety, language development, and potty training, sleep is a developmental milestone. Jack taught me that some kids like to do things in their own good time, and no amount of pressure will help things along.

Jack also taught me that if you look away for one moment, when you look back your child will be older, altered in many wonderful ways, but never again that same little imp who just wants to be close to mama in the night.

I embraced both Emily’s newborn wakefulness and my sleep deprivation and became an accidental “attachment” parent. I wore her during the day in a sling, nursed her on demand around the clocck, and accepted her every need as my command.

As it turned out, she was a mellow baby, took wonderful naps, and didn’t need all that much “training” to reduce her night time wakings to once per night. I swear it had to do with her being worn for hours a day and having a nice, full tummy.

She sleeps in a little crib pushed right up next to my side of the bed. So, when she wakes I pull her into bed with me, nurse her, and put her back.  Although I would love it, we do not sleep with her in our bed because she is too wiggly and would probably make her way out of bed to make mischief.

I have persistent mommy-guilt about those nights that we let Jack cry on and on. I wonder how confusing, lonely, and enraging it must have been for him. Everyone we talked to swore by the cry it out method, and as first time parents, we thought we were doing the “right” thing.

I don’t think the “right” thing should feel so “wrong” when it comes to parenting. I wish I had been more in tune with the voice inside of me that said I was doing something dubious to my child.

On the flip side, I’ll never regret getting up to tend to Emily, even the times when I was exhausted and miserable and swearing a little bit about it.

Society makes moms feel like crap if their baby isn’t sleeping through the night by three months.  This is another one of those rush-rush-get-it-done issues that makes our culture so warped, in my humble opinion.  Truth is, most babies don’t sleep through the night until they are much older and there is nothing wrong with that.

I realize a lot of women are not like me. Some women want their bodies back after they have a baby or don’t believe in co-sleeping (whether in the same bed or just the same room). I also know that many babies do cry it out in three nights and everyone lives happily ever after.  I get it. I respect it.  But life does not “go back to normal” after having babies.  They are awfully exhausting and inconvenient little critters.

We don’t do anyone any good trying to force solitary sleep on a tiny being who was used to being rocked for nine months in a warm cradle of water within us.

I am awestruck by how profoundly fast babyhood passes.  I want to savor every moment, even in the middle of the night.

The evil power of sleep-deprivation can not be understated.  Once when Jack was only a few weeks old, I was so exhausted I could not balance my check book properly.  I freaked out and ran around the house trying to convince my husband that we needed to “sell the baby.”

Thankfully my husband was the voice of reason, but it made me realize why sleep-deprivation is a form of torture.  It does feel like torture, and can be dangerous if you are driving around like a drunk, or so impaired you do something to hurt someone.  If that is the case for you, get help.  Real help.  Fast.

Lying there awake next to sleeping Emily, I realized that it is pretty simple.  As long as everyone is getting enough sleep to function safely, then these are the only words that you really need to know about sleep training in those early days, months, and years:

This too shall pass.  

Because it will pass in its time, and everything will be okay.