My husband and I finally came to terms with the fact we have a nine year old who still doesn’t sleep through the night. Through the years, we kept justifying all the good reasons she wouldn’t sleep: hungry often, night terrors, nightmares, growing pains, restless legs, things that go bump in the night. She’s even been known to sleep walk a time or two. And while these are real issues she deals with, she’s just a light sleeper who enjoys being awake infinitely more than asleep.
I mentioned this to one of my friends, Rebecca, and she said something I can’t quit thinking about:
“The thing about sleep that you figure out after parenthood is that it isn’t actually a right…more of a nice surprise perk!”
Sigh. And yes.
As a mama, I like to think older kids bring certain rights back. I didn’t expect to sleep when my kids were infants or toddlers, but I do expect to sleep through the night when they’re third graders. So once again, I discover how parenting shoves my “rights” to the farthest corner of the closet, mostly forgotten because they aren’t as important as things in the open accessible areas.
When I get all bothered about my “rights,” I’m usually putting myself first. And this isn’t all together bad. After all, I have to get some sleep, I need some time for my own creative interests, Bible reading, hanging with grown-ups. All these feed my soul. But in doing these good things, I’m still putting my loved ones first. I’m giving to me so I have something to give to them. We visit this place of me time, we don’t live there.
“There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept–the tension between ideals and realities. True joy is found by living somewhere between the “ideal life” and “daily realities.” That is where Jesus meets me, where His Holy spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy.” Sally Clarkson, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart
In parenting and otherwise, days and seasons ask us to give to others more than we give to ourselves. It isn’t ideal, but it is reality. And this is when I need Jesus most. In the fight between the way things are and the way I think things should be, may I call on Him, the One who sustains me and lavishes joy. Because I do have the right to keep dying unto myself.
Oh my word, I needed this today!!
Cheryl C. says
Yep, sleep definitely falls under the privilege category more often than the inalienable right side of the chart. I will say though that as your non-sleeper grows with age, you can expect them to understand your personal need for additional sleep and the opportunity they have to develop self-entertainment skills. Just like when they were babies and taking naps we would hear advice to let them develop skills to soothe themselves back to sleep, we need to remember that advice still applies today. I have a teenage son that still prefers that I tuck him in at night, but now that his “weekend” hours are later than I care to stay up, I “tuck him in” wherever he is sitting and tell him not to wake me when he goes to bed. Once or twice I’ve been awakened with a “Mom, I can’t sleep” nudge at the side of my bed, but he’s learning I’m not very helpful when I wake up as I used to be when he was younger.
Love ya, Chica….and pass along to Rebecca that her quip was quite brilliant and that I love her too.
Will do and love you too, friend!
Kerry @ Made For Real says
I simply love when someone else gives me permission “to do” for myself – I’ll take it! 😉
In reality it’s hard for me to put myself first when I really should be. It’s a benefit for the whole of our family.
“It’s a benefit for the whole of our family.” ~ Perfectly said.
Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer says
Yes, and we add yet another layer to the nightlife scene when MOM is going through perimenopause and wakes bright eyed at 4:00 am every morning. Suppose turn about is fair play and I can wake my teens up? Probably inappropriate…
Life is never dull, especially in this wonderful, complicated community we call family.
Maybe that would be inappropriate Shannon, but it would also be hilarious! Ha!