My wife and I are tired. A deep, aching, painful tired…
…that comes from weeks of layering fatigue on top of tiredness on top of sleeplessness on top of exhaustion. All parents go through this at some point, many are going through it now and if you haven’t, you’re delusional, blessed or about to get a really, really big surprise.
If you had told me before kids that this is how I was going to feel, I would have accused you of being a drama queen, of embellishing the truth for pity (I’m quite happy to get some by the way, ideally in the form of baked goods) or not knowing the right way to raise kids (you got to love the wisdom of the child-less, would-be parent).
Once you have a child though, you get it. Which is the weird bit because once you’ve experienced long term sleep deprivation, you would think that you’d happily never do it again. But, statistics say otherwise.
The 5 million (ish) families in Australia have an average of 1.9 kids each. This means that more of us have two than have one, and some of us have three or four or whole minivans worth of them.
So how does this happen? How do rational, sensible grown ups decide to “do it” (pun slightly intended) again? Well, it all starts with the conversation that my wife and I had last night, that starts with “could you do it again” and finishes with… snoring.
Ok so, Barry White moments with very young kids around are rare, but that’s not the point. The point is that the conversation just before the snoring was seriously about potential timing, and sleeping arrangements and where the extra toys/clothes/baby paraphernalia would go. Even while struggling to stay awake at the rock ‘n roll time of 9pm, we were seriously talking about more kids!!!
We hadn’t even gotten to the stage of carefree, kids-and-lives-under-control and were embarking on a hypothetical “what if we had some more” conversation? How could this happen when rationally, there’s so many reasons to avoid further procreation at all costs? As an experiment, I put the following list together in less than 5 minutes (and I type slowly)…
1. You need to make up a bottle in the wee hours of the morning.
Your child will not care that it’s winter and you need to get out of bed to make up a bottle or breastfeed at 1am, 4am and 6am.
2. Your baby doesn’t care about anything you do.
Your child will also not care that today is a weekend, that you haven’t slept in for months or that today, you have a really important presentation/meeting/interview.
3. Even when you do your favourite things…
American breakfast television, Hillsong, infomercials and other television you get to watch when dealing with point 2.
4. You’ll rethink buying your favourite car.
Each consecutive child you have puts you a few more years from buying a two door vehicle.
5. You will almost always have that pain in the neck.
That pain in your neck when you wake up at 4am in the armchair after patting your child to sleep 3 hours ago.
6. But you can rest for a while, soldier.
A newborn’s ability to initiate DEFCON 5 by deciding to breathe a little quieter for a few minutes.
7. Breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult.
The fact that breastfeeding for many is like being given a room full of Ikea furniture in kit form, without instructions or an allen key and being told you have 15 minutes to put it all together. Oh… and there’s a kid screaming at you the whole time you are trying to do it.
8. When they gotta go, they gotta go.
The banshee-like screams of a tired/hungry/in-need-of-changing child in the confined environment of a car, on a freeway, more than a few hours from home.
9. Sleeping does happen, but at all the wrong times.
Like being up from their first morning sleep before 9am or just as you pull the car up in front of your house.
10. Yep, y’all enjoy the movies! Darn!
Hearing other people talk about going to see a movie. And hating them.
Why, in the face of all this “evidence”, do we keep on going back for more?
Well, the answer could lie in the next list:
11. When they fall asleep in your arms.
12. The look on their face when they’re asleep… in your arms.
13. When they cling on to your finger when you’re feeding them.
14. When they finish feeding, look at you, milk drunk and content.
15. Their first smile, laugh, giggle…
16. And first roll over, crawl, stand and steps.
17. When you leave for work one morning and they lean in and kiss you first.
18. And hold on to you as tight as they can because you’re their hero.
19. When you get to see your whole world is 25% bigger but infinitely better.
20. And see the world all over again from a totally new perspective.
21. Did I mention the falling to sleep in your arms?
I suspect that the answer does not reside in rational reason, but in the emotional, irrational world where the strongest argument is defeated by a smile, and countered by a cuddle.