Last night my 4-year-old decided to sleep next to me.
He slept amazing.
I didn't sleep. Sleeping with a 4-year-old is like sleeping next to the hands of a clock. As the night wore on I was inevitably met with feet in my face then hands and then back to feet.
I woke tired. More than tired. I woke wondering why I don't have my red mini Keurig set up in my room waiting with a mug underneath and all I have to do is hit brew.
He woke up happy.
I love you mommy.
He had no idea how tired I really was or how my back was sore or how I really just wanted to sleep for five more minutes -- he just was grateful to see me.
Are you a tired mom?
Are you waking up wishing for more hours in the day? Are you pushing yourself to limits that you didn't have? Working? Cleaning? Mothering? Wondering? Dealing with kids that are fighting over whose turn it is to play Club Penguin on the computer? (or maybe that's just me) Are you wondering whether what you're doing every day makes a difference? Are you tired of the same routine?
Sometimes being a mom means simply being tired.
Sometimes being a mom means feeling a bit lonely. Like no one else notices what we're doing. After all, no one would know that I had maybe a solid 42.4 minute chunk of sleep last night except that I wrote about it. Well, the gals at Starbucks might know when I come in and ask for a venti caramel macchiato. (Be ready, my Barista friends.)
Motherhood is so often this giving of self in our homes that no one sees. We work. We make macaroni and cheese and forget to take the noodles off and so they become mushy. We pick up Little Tikes toys in the backyard again and again and wonder why we have so much plastic. We fold frayed towels, match socks, call doctors, wash walls that have handprints on them, wash sticky faces, help with long division (is it ever easy for any child?), clean the kitchen, wipe down the microwave after our 9-year-old decided to zap something for too long, we go to work, come home from work, we work at home, we mother all day, we do whatever that each of our stories are, and then we go to bed.
Yeah, we could argue that it's just motherhood. And it's just what moms have had to do forever.
You know what? We have. Since the beginning of time moms have had to get up, had to deal with kid issues, money issues, teaching issues, health issues, and so on.
But, just because we've always had to do something doesn't mean it doesn't need to be celebrated and honored. Motherhood, parenthood, they're amazing things. It's not just roses and sunshine and skipping though the meadows holding hands. It's real hard stuff. Stuff that doesn't seem like it will push us to our limits and yet it does. Stuff that gives us great joy and puts a smile on our face and an hour later has us wondering why in the world the 4-year-old is making us want to pull our hair out.
We go into the world and do our jobs and smile at the other preschool moms and order our lattes and drive down the interstate and get groceries and we smile.
You're not alone. Do you hear me?
You. are. not. alone.
The other moms in preschool, at the grocery store, at work, at school, at co-op classes, at the doctor's office, at where ever you may be, well chances are that they might feel tired as well. Wondering about all this motherhood stuff. Yet, still giving of self for those kids that you love.
So today, today, I stand up and salute you the tired, and yet amazing, mom. You, the mom with no sleep. You, the mom who needs encouragement. You, the mom who works and works and works for her family and it feels like no one notices. You, the mom with those three kids under 5 who never gets a break. You, the mom with the newborn who never gets sleep. You, the mom staying up late waiting for the teen to come home. You, the mom. Plain and simple. You, the mom.
Motherhood is a brave journey. It's always been this brave thing to raise another independent, pushing the limits, melt your heart at night, love them forever even when they drive you crazy, human.
That's what you're doing. Even on those tired days.
You. The amazing, brave, empowered, no sleep yet fighting, awesome, cool, mom.
Who needs sleep anyway, right? (Oh yeah, and get that extra shot at Starbucks.)
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If you find yourself hungry all day (and not because you skipped breakfast or have recently amped up your gym routine) it might be because you've been skimping on sleep. Research presented at the 2010 meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior linked little shuteye with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, the same one that triggers hunger, HuffPost reported. This uptick in the hunger hormone seems to lead to not only increased snacking, but also a hankering for high-carb, high-calorie foods, according to a 2004 study, which may help explain why people who don't get enough sleep are at a greater risk of obesity.
Ever find yourself tearing up over an embarrassing TV commercial? While women might be quick to blame PMS, it could be a lack of sleep sending your emotions into overdrive. A 2007 study found that sleep-deprived brains were 60 percent more reactive to negative and disturbing images, USA Today reported. "It's almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses," Matthew Walker, senior author of the study, said in a statement.
You might be tempted to blame your trouble focusing on your age or stress or your overflowing email inbox, but a lack of sleep could be the true culprit. Too few hours in dreamland has been linked to a whole host of cognitive problems, like difficulty focusing and paying attention, confusion, lower alertness and concentration, forgetfulness and trouble learning, WebMD reports. So next time you find yourself forgetting where you put your keys, consider how much sleep you got last night.
If you keep coming down with the sniffles -- or can't seem to kick that never-ending case -- you might want to assess your sleep schedule. A 2009 study found that people who sleep fewer than seven hours each night have almost three times the risk of catching a cold than people who slept for at least eight hours, the LA Times reported.
First you knock the alarm clock off the dresser, then you spill the milk as you're pouring your cereal, then you stub your toe on the way out the door -- you've become a klutz overnight. Researchers don't know exactly why, but sleepy people seem to "have slower and less precise motor skills," Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research told Prevention. Reflexes are dulled, balance and depth perception can be a little wonky and since you may also have trouble focusing, reaction time can be slowed, meaning you can't quite catch the egg carton before it hits the floor.
If you or your partner just can't get in the mood, and stress or an underlying health problem isn't to blame, you might want to spend some extra time between the sheets -- sleeping. Both men and women who don't get their 40 winks experience a decreased sex drive and less interest in doing the deed, WebMD reports. A lack of sleep can also elevate levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, according to Everyday Health, which doesn't help in the bedroom either.
Follow Rachel M. Martin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/finding_joy