Herald Journal Columns
April 21, 2003

A night in the life of a parent


I realized lately that my life is pretty low-keyed, even though I live with two very animated children.

It also dawned on me that I am sleep-deprived now that my youngest son, who will be three in June, has learned to communicate.

Most nights the little shyster decides to come into our room to "visit" us. Sometimes he is quiet and sneaky, sometimes whiny and looking for a drink of water.

He has been coming to my side of the bed and saying in a little sweet voice, "Can I sweep wiff you, Maa-ey?"

I never quite know how to handle it, since I know two things ­ If I say no, he will be up for hours because he's mad at me, and that I will be out some sleep if I say yes. Lose-lose . . .

You wouldn't think that it would be that difficult to fit a child in a king-size bed. He is rather small for his age, so his measly little 27-pound body shouldn't physically take up much room.

That would be, of course, if he laid on the bed in his little area and didn't cause problems.

He doesn't.

When he sleeps, he starts out in the normal position ­ head on pillow, feet pointed toward the foot of the bed. Upon next glance, he is laying right next to one of us without an inch to spare.

(Cuddling is good, don't get me wrong. But it's hard to cuddle with someone when half of your body is hanging off the bed.)

Then you have to try to move him over without waking him up, which sometimes is a feat in itself. And anyone who has a pre-school child will tell you that you never . . . NEVER . . . wake the child up.

The reason for that is that they then think that it is time to wake up for the day, and have had enough of a power nap to rejuvenate.

Side note ­ I think I am jealous of that extra energy. When you need the energy to do your day-to-day activities, your day-to-day activities consist of playing trucks and watching cartoons in a standing position six-inches away from the TV.

Not fair, but hey ­ there were never any promises made about that.

So, if you do successfully move the child over, consider yourself lucky.

What happens in our house is that at some point (I never quite know the timing of it, since I am in a sleepy-haze between midnight and 7 a.m.), Cam practices his alphabet by making a "H" out of the three of us ­ laying feet-to-back to one of us, and head-to-back to the other one.

He's also been known to make a "N," an "A," and in a particularly wiggly night, a "W."

It's a wonder that parents get any sleep at all throughout their child-raising years. And I foolishly thought that once my kids were out of diapers, I would be able to get a full nights sleep again.

This is yet another reason that people considering parenthood should be required to read some sort of manual and pass an extensive frustration-evaluation test.

Thank God they are cute . . .

Makes you wonder, though ­ if we all knew all there was to know about child rearing, both the good and the bad, how many parents would have had a headache?

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