Thursday, May 15, 2008


I'm in a rut. I just can't shake the Mother's Day guilt this year.

The thing that really gets me is when I read on a card (or whatever): "Mom. She was always the last one to bed at night and the first one up in the morning."

Well, I can safely say that I will never receive THAT card from any of my children. Unless it is in jest. Sleep deprivation was the worst thing about having three babies in less than three years. Sleep deprivation, were it not for the grace of God, could have easily driven me to suicide. When I am sleep deprived, I get sick, I cry, and I have zero capacity for dealing with stress or trauma. I never did like slumber parties as a kid. I never pulled an all-nighter in college. I just get to a point of fatigue and I shut down, physically and mentally. This was not good when I was the mother of a just-turned-three-year-old, an eighteen-month-old, and an eight-week-old and we all (yes, me too) got chickenpox.

I'm not sure I ever really pulled completely out of that. People talk about "returning to normal." I think when certain things happen to you, you never get back to the way you were, you just have to find a new way to function and adapt to it.

Anyway, I was sleep deprived for years, and for all the prayers and pleading I threw up to heaven, I never grew into a person who could graciously function on less than eight hours of sleep a night.

When my kids finally became teenagers and started sleeping, I slept right along with them. Hey, I had a lot of lost sleep to make up for. During the week, my kids often stay up late studying and doing homework. I go to bed. I don't get good rest until they all go to bed (this is due, in part, to the fact that certain ones of them often come in to my room and wake me up to ask for something). But I try to be in bed by 11:00 p.m., and they regularly stay up past midnight. I am definitely not the last one up at night.

I do not get up with my kids in the morning before school. I do set my alarm and make sure that they are up, but I do not get up and start my day until most of them are gone. It takes all my energy, mental and physical, to get Jonno out of bed in the morning, so I do get up for that, and I make his breakfast and his lunch. But the older kids are on their own after I have made sure that somebody is awake and working on the morning routine. So you see, I am certainly not the first one up in the morning. Perhaps I am the first one awake, but I am not the first one UP. And, depending on how bad a night I've had, I sometimes go back to bed after Jonno is on the bus, too.

I am the first one up on weekends, sometimes, kind of. Well, let's not even go there.

Aagh. The guilt is killing me. But if I try to push myself and sleep less and be up more, the result is... more guilt. Because then I ache and I get crabby and miserable and I whine and complain and grumble and lose my temper.

It is very hard to discern where the will of God is in all this. Does He look at me with a sort of tolerant grace, knowing that He made me a certain way? Or does He look at me in disappointment, because I am not trying hard enough, not trusting fully enough?

I don't want to be lazy. And I don't want to be mean. But sometimes it seems like I am forced to choose one or the other. When I really push myself, I get mean. When I am nice, I am lazy.

What to do? What to do?

I am so glad that I won't be tired in Heaven. Or mean. Or... guilty. Hallelujah!

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