I have a confession to make.
My almost 5 year old doesn't sleep thru the night.
Yes FIVE. YEAR. OLD.
Nope he isn't 5 months or 15 months. He is two weeks shy of five years old!
He has very rarely slept thru the night since birth and it is mostly our fault.
Probably more mine than Big Yankee's as his work schedule rarely had him home at bedtime those first three years.
This means that I haven't slept thru the night in 5 years...more accurately ten years but that's Einstein's fault and probably another post.
I am chronically sleep-deprived.
Our living situations have been less than ideal for the past 15 months. With two days warning Big Yankee and Stinkbug headed south for a job. It sucked but it was the only way we could both keep our jobs which we desperately needed to do. They lived with my parents during the week and came home on weekends.
How do you explain THAT to a 3 1/2 year old?
It got to the point where he just slept with Big Yankee because it was the only for him to get enough sleep to function at work the next day. StinkBug would spend the week being an only child, hanging with grandparents all day and Daddy at night. When the weekend rolled around he would return to the chaos of a busy household with a brother, sister and Momma he missed desperately.
In mid January my dad got sick.Very. Very. Sick. ICU sick.
By then Big Yankee and all the monkeys had moved South and I was here clinging to my high stress job while looking for work there and praying that our house would sell. It was heartbreaking. With NO warning StinkBug moved back with me. His world was rocked once more. He went from living in a house full of people and hanging out with grandparents all day to being wrapped in a blanket and dropped off at Ms. L's home childcare at 6:30 am. He was once again separated from his beloved sister.
I spent all day teaching other people's at-risk 3-5 year olds. We were going through some extremely high stress times in our classroom and with the school as a whole. I was worried about my parent's health. I couldn't stop imagining worst case scenarios. I was completely and utterly exhausted. Physically and emotionally. My family was fractured and financial stress was off the charts. I wasn't sleeping. My brain would not shut off.
I was too tired and too empty to wage war over sleep. It got to the point where I just let him get in bed with me. I took the easy way out. He would watch a movie and fall asleep. I was relying on Tylenol PM to get some Zzzzs. Far from ideal, but I did what I had to do in order to survive. Big Yankee and the older two came home on the weekends.
The summer brought us layoffs times two but we were all back together in our own house. StinkBug's sleep improved somewhat but it wasn't a huge deal since no one had school or work to worry about. We messed that all up by going on a 21 day road trip where we traveled to eleven states and slept in a bazillion different places. Two weeks after we returned, Big Yankee moved across country for a job, the big kids went back to school, and StinkBug's world was torn apart once more.
Through lots of tears and heartbreak (his and mine) Stinkbug was once more sleeping in his own bed and only waking up three nights a week. My dreams were coming true. The birds were singing, double rainbows decorated our world and life was good. I was hopeful that he would be sleeping through the night by his fifth birthday.
Things started to slowly deteriorate and by Thanksgiving he was back to waking every single night. Big Yankee's Christmas visit was amazing but his departure left a broken hearted little boy. Sobbing, crying, clinging to me. Scared if I leave the room he shares with his brother for a split second. He comes into my room every single night.
He doesn't sleep through the night and I feel guilty. It's our fault. We have put him through so much. Too many transitions, complicated living situations. As adults we can barely make sense of things, so how can we expect him to manage?
As I solo parent there are many, many nights I am beyond desperate for bedtime so I can have a few moments to myself.
Moments when I am not needed-when I can take care of myself and enjoy the silence, when I can really breathe and let go of the day-when I am not being touched or talked to. When I get to be me.
And then I will hear his feet padding down the hall. He clings to his pirate pillow as he stands in my doorway and says, "I thought I told you I needed you? Can I lay down with you?"
I pull the blankets down and pat the bed. It's our fault. We are guilty.
I look at his big brother who won't allow himself to need us like that anymore.
My heart breaks for both of them.