I used to take sleep for granted. Staying up until 2 a.m. with friends, a good book or a movie meant nothing. It was easy to make up the lack.
Now, my eyelids start to droop at 9 p.m. (actually around 2 p.m., truth be told, but I heroically manage to push through it until the sun sets).
I don't take sleeping for granted anymore. I think it has something alright, everything to do with having kids. And there are at least two reasons for that.
One: Kids just suck the energy out of you. You ever wonder why kids have so much energy? Because they suck it out of every adult in the vicinity. I came home energized and ready to get things done. I had a broom and a roll of new line for the weedeater.
When Katie got tired of tearing the straw out of the broom and bending what was left by pushing it forward along the carpet, she got interested in what I was doing with the line. She wanted to help. We fought over the length I had already wound around the spindle, ruining my carefully-created pattern. We did that a couple times until Katie finally believed my threat to sell her to gypsies if she didn't leave me alone (she's not really old enough to understand, but she was born with the innate sense to humor me).
So she moved to attack the length of line remaining all 50 feet of it. I almost had to cut her out. Because I didn't, I had to go back and untie the knots she made.
The point is, by the time Katie was done with me, I didn't have the energy to make it out the door, let alone sweep the porch and trim the weeds.
I start off a lot of projects that go "poof" as soon as Katie decides she wants to help.
Two: Kids are only really good at sleeping when it's inconvenient.
I try for hours to put a sleepy-therefore-cranky kid down for a nap. The fact that I'm even trying really ticks Katie off.
So I gave up and got everybody dressed to leave. By the time I got the baby dressed, Katie was already asleep and the baby wasn't far behind her.
It was one of the only times when they both slept at the same time.
Which is convenient because I'm expected somewhere else and my shot at a nap is ... well, shot.
My oldest stepson is at an age where he respects the sleep patterns of others. Which is great because he's regularly out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. He used to rise before the sun, climb into our bed and ask a string of questions to which each answer was "mmmm-shhhh."
Now, he tiptoes out, quietly almost closes our door, plugs the headphones into the computer and loads a game. Not a sound.
Unfortunately, he gets so involved in the game he talks to the computer. And, in the spirit of being a helpful older brother, the second he hears Katie he lifts her out of her crib and sets her free. Then plugs the headphones back in while Katie wreaks totally unsupervised havoc.
And to be honest, I'm OK with that. I'll clean up the mess in exchange for a little more sleep.
But, it doesn't work like that. Because Alex "almost" closed our bedroom door, Katie can slip in easily. Trust me, you'd rather get out of bed at the crack of dawn than exchange a half hour more of sleep for the heart attack you'll get when you open your eyes to a little face a half-inch from yours. Even better is when there's three-inches of water in the glass on the night stand and she, being helpful of course, gives you a drink.
The funny thing about kids is they don't value sleep at all. In fact, they'll make themselves miserable in attempts to stay awake.
The baby usually the best sleeper in the world (hey, my genes have to show up somewhere) is starting to fight sleep. The other night she lay on my stomach banging her head into my chest to stay awake.
My nephew Isiac used to pick at his diaper until it was shreds and pinch and pull painfully on his little wee wee (anyone who is offended should know that's completely normal, but usually only occurs in a restaurant, the grocery store or other public venue).
After seeing that, my husband couldn't sleep.
Katie used to, when she was tired, go to her crib and yell until someone lifted her into it.
Nothing good lasts forever.
Now there's a routine that must be followed or there will be no bedtime. Her diaper must be changed and Katie clad in pajamas all the while being told how "pitty" they look on her.
There is some time spent in the rocking chair and songs are sung. But the really crucial things to a smooth awake-to-sleep transition are the bedtime companions a bottle, blue bear and the blanket things that will send you, no matter what time it is, back to a restaurant, knocking on a door or combing the streets in search of this "can't sleep without it item."
Yes, we have duplicates, but Katie knows the difference. She knows the difference between her blanket and the not-as-dirty duplicate even when she's half asleep.
It's not exactly the same. The duplicate blanket hasn't been dragged across town hanging out the door of the car. It hasn't yet been used as a Kleenex or to catch spit up. It doesn't have character.
When all the keys are in place and you're sitting in the rocking chair watching those eyelids get heavy, you forget the work it took to get you to this point. You forget all the jobs you were going to do as soon as she was asleep. You forget your arm is painfully going to sleep.
It's easy to forget when you're staring into the face of an angel.
And they're all angels when they're sleeping.