Everyone wants out

Peanut told me this week that he wants a new mom.

He ain’t the only one shopping for my replacement.

I’m done.
I’m just done.

I finally found a sitter, after two years of a Spouse who worked such long hours he only saw our eldest on weekends and two more years of an intense kid who was awake 14 hours a day and most of the night, and another year with two children, the sum of which ate away all my reserves. And put me deep into patience debt. And fun ideas debt. And giving a shite debt. So I found a sitter from a trusted source and scheduled her twice a week for two hours.

Four hours of solo time. Of daylight hours where I could choose my own destiny. Or at least have a cup of tea and close my eyes while walking. (I love doing that.) Or, heaven forbid, writing.

And this answer-to-my-prayers babysitter has canceled six times now. Out of eight appointments. Sick some of those times, needed at work (a preschool) others, planning a trip another, and “tired and unable to be attentive” once. Five cancellations were an hour before she was due here.

So clearly I’m not going to ask her back.

And without outside help I’m back to 86 hours a week of being tasked with guarding and teaching and protecting and not stabbing small children. And another 14 hours a week while they sleep of cleaning and preparing and cooking. And another couple of hours every night, when the toddler wakes 2-6 times for comfort and milk and the older one wakes for bathroom or nightmares or some bullshit invention that tests my theories of nighttime parenting.

I’m too tired to calculate it, but that seems as though at least 114 hours of my week is child-centric. (For those keeping track, that leaves less than 8 hours a day, so I can do all children all the time and sleep, or rob my sleep to have some reading, writing, exercise, thinking, talking, adult time moments.) I love these kids 168 hours a week. But 68% of every minute of my year seems like a lot of unblinking moments. With healthy, loving, awesome kids. And two hours to myself most weekends. Whine whine whine. Except, come on.

With a sitter who calls in too tired to pay attention to my kids for two bleeping hours.

So when the five year old offers to throw me out on my ear, I’m eager for the chance.

P: I get a good allowance, you know. I can buy a new mom.
M: Hmmm. What are you looking for in a new mom? What qualities will make a new mom worth your money?
P: Well, mostly what I’m looking for is no rules.
M: Oh. Yeah, that would be nice.
P: I want one who says yes to hitting.
M: Well, let’s see. That knocks out M’s mom and E’s mom and R’s mom and your aunt and your grandmas. Who else do you have in mind?
P: I don’t really need to buy a new mom. I just need to pay you to have no rules.
M: No deal. You still have to hold hands in the street and wear a seatbelt and use sunscreen if I’m your mom.
P: Okay, but I want to pay you so I can hit.
M: What do you want to hit?
P: I’ll give you $100 if I can knock down this house.
M: There’s a problem with that plan. If you knock down this house I have to pay the landlord a lot more than $100. So it’s not worth it to me. Sorry.
P: Well, I’ll keep looking.
M: You do that.

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Good morning

Reasons for which my son has screamed for me at between 3:00-4:00 a.m. this week:

The edges of his pillow don’t touch the bed. Even though the laws of physics state that his pillow edges have never touched the bed, this reality is a desperate tragedy. Right now.

The baby’s breathing woke him up. Not the crying at midnight or the screaming at 2:30 a.m. It’s that damned breathing that gets him every time. Or, really, one time out of the 600 (or so) minutes he sleeps.

The stars went out. The stars from the turtle go out after 30 minutes of glowing. But somehow, seven hours into the night, this is a 9-1-1-eligible emergency.

He forgot to finish dinner. Asked at the end of dinner and again before bed whether he had eaten enough, he answered in the affirmative. But 3:27 a.m. brings everything into a new clarity, and now dinner is not as done as he previously thought.

He forgot his favorite hat at school. No, he didn’t. But he needed to scream for me to check.

On a related note: creative and energetic four-and-a-half year old free to a good home. Definition of good changes at 3:00 a.m.

Can’t you do those sums in your head?

Number of times kid woke me last night, screaming, scared, or needy: three

Number of times spouse work me last night, snoring: three

Number of times cat #1 woke me last night, kneading kitty bread on my all-too supple belly: two

Number of times cat #2 woke me last night, yowling to go outside, totally ignoring the eight year precedent as an exclusively indoor f–king cat: two

Total times some other creature woke me last f–king night: look, I got an A+ in calculus at a pretty prestigious University, but I can’t even add right¬† now. And does the number really matter? I am the grouchiest (what is the right word? “bitch” has too many connotations that my anger and frustration are misplaced because I’m a woman which is false [the misplaced part not the woman part…as though there is a “woman part”]; “a–hole” connotes that I’m less shitty today because I more puckered; and “motherf—er” just doesn’t work right for so many reasons…let’s try again) the grouchiest shell of a human this side of Alaska.

Aaaaargh!

I think I need a career as a pirate. Those f—ers get some respect.

It’s official…

The single reason my son is a terror and I am a writhing mess:  lack of sleep.

I suspected it, but thought there might be greys and nuances and spectra. Nope. He slept through the night last night, and I got a full eight hours uninterrupted by cat or child or snores (you know who you are) or trains. And I was a peach today. So was my kid. We had a grand old time. He told me this was his best day ever. He’s three. He should know.

Don’t know how to decree an official mandate on sleep, but I right now hold aloft my sword and declare this family will commence giving me nights like that every night for-freaking-ever more.

Else rue the day.

As they have been for years.

We’re paying our kid to sleep through the night

Well, really, we’re offering our kid stickers to sleep through the night. We’ll see what happens. We gave him three stickers tonight and told him that each time he calls us and we have to come in, we’re taking a sticker back to bed with us. Whatever’s left in the morning he can keep. Whatever we take away gets back onto his bookshelf to try again the next night.

Because seriously, this shit has to stop.

For the record, when he’s scared from a nightmare or cold or hurt, I’m happy to go to him. It’s my job. It’s called parenting. No, we didn’t co-sleep. Couldn’t do it. Variety of reasons. Be gentle with me. I know what follows is not nice. But we’ve tried everything except letting him cry, and I’m hoping bribery is slightly better long-term.

And I know paying him to sleep is totally against our parenting ideas. A child who wakes at night and really needs help, we say, is a child who gets our help. We’ve tried just letting it go. We’ve tried the pediatrician-recommended straight talk express: “Your body needs sleep, mommy’s body needs sleep, daddy’s body needs sleep. When you call for us at nighttime for a cuddle, you wake us up and we don’t get much sleep. If we don’t get much sleep, we get cranky. You don’t like us cranky, so let us sleep. Cuddle your doll and don’t call us.” Didn’t work. He tried hard. But he can’t help waking. He can, however, control whether he calls us or not.

Yeah, well, last night there were seven times between 3am and 4:30am when he NEEDED his socks pulled up and NEEDED his tucked-in covers more tucked in and NEEDED to find a place to put his tissue. So needed them so much that he called out, then called out, then cried, then sobbed. So I told him, each time that he cried enough to convince me he was awake and genuinely sad, and I got out of bed and onto freaking crutches in the wee hours, that he did not need me for those things, and that he was old enough to do it himself. From his doorway I refused to help. Bad parenting awards can be sent to 123 Years I Haven’t Slept, NotNiceParentville, Crappy Parentland, 01234.

And so help me, the seventh time I went in, when he, fifteen minutes after visit number six to his doorway, asked, then begged, then cried, then sobbed that he needed his socks pulled up again, I yelled at him that if he woke me again he’d have to sleep in the yard. He cried. “I don’t want to sleep in the yard.” He’s two and a half. I’m not nice. I’m going to parenting hell. You don’t threaten your kid with sleeping in the yard. That’s not attachment, that’s disordered. I don’t want to yell. But he is capable of sleeping through the night. He’s done it before. He’s just pushing my buttons, and I’m out of patience. I haven’t slept in three years.

Hence the sticker bribe.

I don’t know what else to do. When he was tiny this was expected. When he was wordless, it was still normal, if hard. Now he’s big enough to do most things on his own, if not well. We respect him all his waking hours, but have lost the will to live from 10pm to 5am.

So we’re paying him to leave us alone at night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Falling asleep on the job

Drifting off during bedtime stories ain’t just for kids anymore.

I’ve read all our books, even the brand-newly-rented library books dozens of times. And I often change the words to engage Peanut in the story, adding questions for him or descriptions of the illustrations. In fact, he thinks one page of his favorite book actually says, “what do you see?” because when he reads it to me, that’s how he reads the page.

Anyway, when we read (several times a day), I sometimes (not proud of this) close my eyes and read the book from memory. I check in often, but I’m tired. My eyes hurt. We’ve read these books hundreds of times. They are not treatises in philosophy. They’re children’s books. I have a Master’s in English. With honors. I can handle faking Where the Wild Things Might Be if I Were Looking Right Now.

So I occasionally, also, fall asleep while intoning my made up version of the story. (I mentioned being somewhat ashamed of this, right? But I mentioned that the kid doesn’t watch t.v. and that he doesn’t sleep through the night and that our bedtime ritual is precise and regular and has been since four months old and that I don’t have any help except when Spouse is home and that I’m writing when I should be napping, right? You did, at least, get that from the title of the blog, right?) And Peanut sometimes turns in my lap to figure out why I’ve stopped. Or he begs, “Please. Read.” loudly enough for me to awake.

Last night I jerked back awake because I heard myself say, “They ask the pigs, but no help. They ask the police officer…but…no help. They…..ask…….the………..guerilla marketing.”

I only woke up because I thought I was in a meeting. Once I realized it was Bananas Gorilla, I turned the page and closed my eyes again. (Mr. Fixit comes next and tows the car, in case you were worried that the police officer didn’t help. He radioed for help but couldn’t stop. Chasing a repeat litterer.) Peanut didn’t know what guerrilla marketing meant. I need to step up the branding flashcard sessions.

As with the time I was on summer break and woke up with a book in my lap, terrified that I was missing lecture, late for a test, and late with a paper, only to realize that I was reading for pleasure; waking up this time I was terrified that I’d be fired for sleeping on the job, would have to find a new job, and would languish in a state of underemployment where I made no money and earned no respect.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t a dream. That was my life. Some days I wish I could get fired and that they could hire someone more capable for the job. Except that I’m the they and I don’t know that there is someone more capable.

Guess I should nap tomorrow.