Monday, October 13, 2008

Sleep Is for the Weak?

There's a great-looking book floating around the blogosphere these days called "Sleep Is for the Weak." It's a collection of essays written by an assortment of well-known mommybloggers (and daddybloggers?) about parenting. It's been on my book list for a while now, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

I see links for this book daily, but it would probably stick in my head anyway, because the title is just so catchy. It is half joke, half reality -- a battle cry that unites us all as we venture forth into the frontlines of babydom.

But I there a point in time where the joke falls flat? Where that phrase brings tears of exhaustion to one's burning, bloodshot eyes? Where that book is shuffled to the very end of the reading queue, based on the title alone?

Because, let me tell you, I think that time might well be creeping up on me. If I were to see that book on the shelf of a local store, I would be equally likely to snatch it up in delight...or knock it to the floor and roll my car right over it, with nary a glance, depending on the day. (Which, translated, means, "depending on how much sleep I got the night before.")

Which brings me to my point: sleep issues. Nothing's working. Frustrated. Tired. Annoyed. Need solution. Yada yada yada, Round Number Seventy-Jillionty-Five.

Now if you find yourself in a similar situation, you already know what I'm talking about. Your specifics might be a little different, but that's relatively unimportant. You speak my language. You feel my frustration. You live my exhaustion.

You might be sleeping in a chair with your metal-braced or casted child. (hi, Rach) Or nursing during the night for the 7th year in a row. (hey, Gwen) Or simply up at 3 a.m. because your child is. (Penny, Lisa - greetings. *yawn*) Or coaxing your child to sleep each night, only to find yourself repeating it all over again several hours later. For nights upon months upon years on e...

Oh, sorry -- I nodded off for a sec. Now where was I?

Right. Seriously, what happens when the sleepless baby months stretch into years? Decades?? (Oh, goodness, I feel faint -- is it possible to last that long?! If any of you decades-weary parents are out there, I'm not sure I'm prepared to hear about that just yet, mmkay? Thanks. Let me stagger along in my steady belief that this will end. Somehow. Some day.)

What makes that book title clever is that the people saying it are, in fact, strong people who happen to be bravely and proudly doing without for a bit. But when the deprivation becomes chronic, those previously strong people might just find themselves quite literally shrivelling up into weaklings.

At least, that's what I find happening to myself these days.

Words -- nay, entire concepts! -- escape the tongue. Deadlines go unmet. Important papers are forgotten. Emails are unanswered. Partnerships disintegrate into scorekeeping. Patience is, itself, trying. Kindness masquerades as Optional. Sanity crumbles.

Blogs are hopelessly neglected. (*cough, cough*)

But back to the title -- "Sleep Is for the Weak." Hearing that phrase as one of the weakened, it begins to morph into a brilliantly simple solution. A soothing balm. A delicious promise. A lullaby, whispered gently in my ear. A Psalm.

Sleep, and you will be strengthened. Dream, and your visions will be restored. Snore, and the door shall be opened unto you...

I would like to propose a companion book, titled "Sleep Is for the Strong." I envision essays contributed by mommybloggers (and daddybloggers) who write about parenting children with disabilities. About living fully when the inevitable return of peaceful slumber hangs in doubt.

The irony is still there, of course. Because the people saying it are, in fact, weakened people who happen to be bravely and proudly -- strongly -- doing without for a bit.

It takes strength to sleep through the alarms or bleeps of life-assuring machines signalling problems. It takes strength to sleep in interrupted segments until the next scheduled feeding or necessary repositioning of an immobile child. It takes strength to sleep through the fear of what the next minutes or hours or days might bring. It takes strength to sleep when your child is not.

Again, the specifics are relatively unimportant; the common bond is still there. It takes strength to remain chronically sleep-deprived yet continue to seize the day.

Am I breaking down? Am I in the midst of a crisis? No, don't worry. It's simply Monday.

But I'm just sayin' --that hypothetical book? Sleep Is for the Strong? Well, that is a book that I would certainly snatch up in delight and shuffle to the TOP of my book list, regardless of the day.

Is anybody out there awake enough to write it? I'd like to pre-order, please.


Anonymous said...

Sigh. Sleep is unfortunately necessary, and I am a sad, sad, poster child of what happens to you when you go too long without. It's a bad thing to go for years and years all sleep deprived. And the catnaps are not doing it for me anymore.

Has Max ever had a sleep study? We're to the point where we're going to do one for Daniel. His last was at age 3, and that led to removal of tonsils and adenoids, which did help. Maybe they'll find something relevant?
Yawn . . .

Penny said...

We've been living with Tigger lately--up all night bouncing around, cheerful as can be, but very, very awake. Oh, and he's learned how to ask us to turn on a light. And he's pretty committed to this bright (ha!) idea. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

I would be fully supportive of "Sleep is for the Week" -- sort of a cruise get away for parents of specially special kids -- no need to ever leave port, or really have any fancy ship accommodations. Just a nice quiet place where I could sleep for a week. Brilliant.


Jujyfruit said...

Oooo! "Sleep is for the WEEK" Non-Cruising Ships IS brilliant! Pitch it to Carnival, Rachel.

They would HAVE to see the money-making potential in that scheme! No entertainment to line up, no expensive fuel or captain salaries to pay for,...and customers just begging to get on board!

Jujyfruit said...

Oh, and also, to answer your question -- no, Max hasn't had a sleep study. I've always suspected that all that hassle and bother (and money) would just end up telling us...he doesn't sleep well.

He did have a T&A, several years ago, and it greatly improved his sleep at the time.

Maybe it's time to give the study a whirl.