It must have been late autumn because it was dark at 5:30. It was raining, too. Actually, it might not have been raining; it might not have been dark either but my mind is so desperate to create some kind of foreshadowing to the impending doom that was to come that evening, that no other weather would suffice.
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Whatever the weather, she fell asleep at 5:30 on the short journey back from a busy day and tea at a friend’s. Maybe she’ll sleep through, I thought. I’m not sure why I thought that as her track record was not one of full and peaceful nights’ sleeps.
Anyhow, naively... optimistically... stupidly, I transferred her to her cot and continued (maybe slightly smugly) the evening that contained less than half the work with one child down.
1am was the hour that she decided she’d had a full nights sleep. I tried to convince her that it was still night time, that she was still tired but she became more and more awake, and as her protests grew louder, so the baby stirred. And then there was three partaking in this night time gathering that I desperately wanted to leave. Being the only responsible adult awake, I stayed and dragged my groggy self and my two offspring downstairs for a midnight Nick Jr marathon.
The first hour was ok. I mean, I’ve been up until 2am before, albeit not relentlessly sleep deprived, but I’ve done it. I also cleverly chose a programme that none of us had seen before and so could even describe myself as mildly entertained. But after that first hour I was just a bit pissed off. And so was the baby.
I forgot to mention that I also dragged a duvet downstairs in the initial dragging from slumber to sofa. With said duvet, I tried creating an appealing floor bed where all three of us could cuddle down and resume sleep. Toddler was having none of it. I’m feeling pretty cross at this point but am managing to keep it in. So I try to secretly feed the baby to sleep so that there is at least one person doing what they should do at 2am. The reason why this has to be done in secret is because if the toddler became aware of this special cuddle then she’d want to be involved and then we’d all still be awake.
She noticed, on four different occasions, meaning the almost asleep baby was wrenched from her milky dreams by her tyrant of a big sister. I’m sure this kind of thing is used as torture. ‘Will you stop it!’ I say in a raised voice, through gritted teeth. This is the point that I could have lost my mind. Two and a half hours of Wanda and the Alien (n.b I have never watched this programme again, a bit like when you over listen to an album after a bad break-up) had finally become too much. It’s like I had to reach breaking point to be able to regroup and pull myself together. But this stuff is hard and there’s no training for it.
For three and a half hours I had to listen to wingeing and crying, been clambered on, poked and prodded, all when we should have been dead to the world. It’s hard to remember how much you love your kids when they are preventing you from partaking in a key element of survival; if it were another human, I’d have left them for bed hours ago.
4:30am they both finally fell asleep, crammed on the sofa but asleep nonetheless. I took a moment to breath: relief and immense satisfaction that we had made it through, washed over me. I whispered a quiet ‘thank God’ that I was on maternity leave and didn’t have work the next day and then let my mind wander, before drifting off myself, to my husband, upstairs, like a comatose starfish, completely oblivious, in a king-sized bed.