Not I-just-need-a-nap tired.
Or If-I-had-one-good-night-sleep-I’d-feel-better tired.
Or even I-had-a-particularly-bad-sleep-last-night tired.
I’m I-don’t-know-who-I-am-without-being-tired tired.
I’ve been so tired for so long that this has become my new normal. It’s become part of who I am; I am a tired mum.
But I manage surprisingly well.
The upside is that with a 3 year old nobody asks me anymore “How does she sleep?” – because people assume she does. Even people who knew she was an unsettled baby or a wakeful toddler, don’t ask anymore.
People wouldn’t suspect she wakes more often now than she did when she was 6 weeks old.
And funnily enough I was far more shattered when she was 6 weeks old than I am now – and she used to have day sleeps then!
Nearly 3 years later I barely feel it, because I just suck it up and get on with it. I’ve been getting on with it for some time now. It’s only when I face it head on I feel like it’s going to overwhelm me. Not just that it’s been going on for so long – but the hideous thought that it might go on forever.
Obviously it wont. Even the most determined night-waker will eventually sleep through the night. She will not be doing this forever. She can’t be. It’s not going to happen. At the very least I can be assured that I will get to sleep when she leaves home – but still that’s not forever away (it’s just a very long time).
And most of the time I don’t even think about it. I just get up, get through the day, and then most days I’m so wired from pretending I’m not tired that I can’t fall asleep until after midnight – then I sneak in my few hours of broken sleep, and I start all over again.
I spoke to our children’s health nurse about 6 months ago and after we’d talked for nearly an hour she agreed that I needed help to make changes, and that I should take her to a residential sleep school type thing.
She then told me when I get the referral for this I need to just let it out a little bit, stop holding it all back – she jokingly said “Cry if you have to”, because the waiting lists were brutal and she said she would have no idea what I was going through if I didn’t tell her. If I hadn’t told her I’d teared up on the bus on the way to the appointment because I felt like not only have I failed (again, this is my non-sleeping-child-number-two) because I felt like nobody could help me, she’d have never known that’s how bad things were. Because by the time I sat down in her office I was bright and smiling.
I cover it well, I push it down, not from other people – from myself.
Because I can’t deal with this either!
And we didn’t go to sleep school, I soldiered on and managed to work some things out so at least we’re not at breaking point anymore. So, that’s positive at least!
The only issue I have is I’m pretty sure I used to be much smarter.
Occasionally my (childless) friends will engage in interesting discussions on social media and I might have a passionate point of view on the topic – but I can’t contribute. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I can’t remember how to make sentences do the things. The words I need don’t come. And worse, a few times recently in the one discussion I started typing out a response – realised it wasn’t making any sense, went to hit delete and pressed “enter” instead. In the end I bailed out by saying “Sorry I’m really tired today” – because I felt like I was ruining their adult conversation.
And when debating on social media so often turns into a grammar and spelling contest, I know I would surely lose most days.
NOT because I’m not smart! Not because I can’t do it. But because I can’t do it right now.
Because right now I can’t remember where to put apostrophes. Or spell. Or make sense. And I’m still nervous every time I use the words “affect” or “effect” because I’m pretty sure I get them mixed up half the time.
I feel like my brain only runs at dial up speed these days. Or as though there is information locked away in my brain I just can’t find it. Like I’ll try to think of something and my brain comes up with “File Not Found”.
And because I think of my brain as me, my brain is the who that I am, the control centre of my being, so if my brain isn’t completely functioning the way I think it should, then I don’t feel like I’m completely me.
I spoke about this with a friend – someone who knows me really well – and she said “Rachel, you’re just tired. You’ll be smart again when you’re not tired.”
That was about 2 years ago. Nothing much has changed.
But she’s right. I’ll get there. I’m just still tired. But, hey, look at me, still managing to get through every day!
My attention span might be short, my short term memory is woeful, my ability to concentrate is practically non-existent but, my capacity to carry on regardless is seemingly infinite.
And one day, when I’m not so tired, hopefully I’ll feel smart again.
Until then – I have coffee and a nervous smile to get me through it.