When my kids were little, they were terrible sleepers. As newborns, they woke up every hour on the hour. As infants, they defied “sleep training” for weeks. As toddlers, they were up before the sun…at 4 am.
My daughter was finally sleeping through the night by the time she was four. My son held out until age five. During this time, Josh had some nose and throat issues that were causing him to snore and sleep like a hibernating bear. And I should mention that maybe the kids inherited their sleep patterns from me. I am the world’s lightest sleeper, and I cannot nap. Ever.
So, for those seven long years, I was so constantly tired that I felt like I was on some kind of strong hallucinogenic drug. I routinely saw bats flapping in the shadows and large shapes hulking in doorways. I stumbled through the days in a stupid haze, often forgetting basic information (Josh’s cell phone number, if I had eaten lunch, what that thing with the prongs is called…you know…that thing…?).
My short-term memory was shot, as well. I needed to speak very slowly so that I could remember what I had been trying to say…thirty seconds before.
It got to the point where the subject was painful. If another mom mentioned that she had to wake her kids up to get them to school on time, I was liable to burst into tears or have to walk away from the conversation.
I was just…so…tired.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. “I’m moving out,” I told Josh.
Being used to my dramatic proclamations, he just nodded.
I dug our North Face tent out of the garage and pitched it in our backyard. Inside the tent, I inflated our queen-sized air mattress and covered it with our best sheets and a warm down comforter. Then I decorated: a cozy rug, a footstool, a lantern, a few good books.
It was the best sleep of my life.
I slept out there for six weeks. During this time, I have no idea what happened inside my house. I woke up each morning, refreshed and alert, unzipped the tent flap, and walked fifteen feet to the back door. Everyone was awake to greet me and happy to see me. I slowly became a productive member of society again.
We didn’t travel outside of our time zone for years. It was too intense…not to mention too expensive (there was no way I was going to pay thousands of dollars to recreate the sleep drama of the past).
My kids are older now, and they are able to sleep (or at least lie in bed quietly), but the farthest we’ve been is three hours away. This summer, we’re headed to Japan, then Europe. Frankly, I’m a little nervous. What if?