I’ve never been the world’s best sleeper. My brain has always liked to gently nudge me awake at 3am to remind me of all the things I could have said or done differently over the past thirty years. Some of the witty retorts my sleepy brain has produced are pure brilliance. If I only had a time machine, that person in 1994 would get the clever put down they deserved.
I have a hazy recollection of thinking up the premise to some fantastic story during one sleepless night. I got all excited. This was dynamite. J.K Rowling would’ve had nothing on me! I got to the point where I was thinking about what I would spend my film royalties on before I fell back to sleep, confident this piece of literary gold would still be in my head by the morning. Of course when I woke, it had disappeared along with the night. I really should take a pen and paper to bed, or a Dictaphone in case I’ve been lying on my writing hand funny.
Even though I’ve always been a light sleeper, it’s become much worse since having Harriet. Anyone with children will know that sleep is greatly affected once you’ve had a child. First its night feeds, crying and getting used to those weird dinosaur sounds babies make that no one tells you about. Eventually you fall in to one of two camps. The first camp have children that sleep. They like to brag about it on social media, ‘look at me. Fresh as a daisy with my sleepy little cherub, still snoozing at 9am’. It’s just smug. The second type, have children who refuse to sleep for allll time. It leaves you foggy brained, sleepy eyed and a wreck of a human being. The stringing together of an intelligible sentence requires real effort and you may leave the house with your skirt tucked in your pants.
At around six months old Harriet put a self-imposed embargo on sleep. I’ve been told this will end at a few points over the last few years…when she stops night feeds, when she starts nursery and the Holy Grail ‘She’ll sleep when she starts school’. Does she buggery. When Harriet goes to bed, she is still full of energy. She’ll demand drinks and request toilet visits to stall for time. The bedtime story has become longer and longer until I’m basically reading War and Peace before she settles down. An hour later, I triumphantly creep out of the room and head downstairs for a celebratory cup of tea. On occasions Harriet has been known to silently leave her room. A while later, I’ll open the lounge door and shit myself as I am faced with her standing motionless and menacing on the stairs, like she’s an extra in The Shining. I’ll ask her, ‘what are you doing out of bed’ and she’ll reply in an ethereal sing song voice ‘I want you to stay with me, forever and ever’. That’s my restful night’s sleep gone for another week. Children are creepy at times.
Harriet never sleeps in her own bed all night. She has the most beautiful, hand crafted fairy bed to sleep in. It was a labour of love by her father, especially done to encourage magical slumber in her own room. Awesome bed or not, at some point during the night she’ll wake up and tiptoe into our room. However such a small child takes up so much space in a big bed is beyond me, but she’ll soon starfish her way to a good two thirds of the mattress, by which time David is hanging off the edge and I’m squished between the two of them, normally with Harriet’s toe in my ear, or elbow in my ribs. My legs are so bruised from all the night time fidgetiness that they look a bit like an inner city road map. I’ve even tried moving beds in the middle of the night to avoid the situation, but needless to say the next morning, I have my spiky little companion kicking me in the shins and winning the duvet war. On the very rare occasion Harriet does sleep in her own bed. I awake with mild panic as to why she isn’t there, and normally end up going in to her room and unintentionally poking her awake to make sure she’s ok.
I can’t remember the last time I woke up refreshed. I sleep so badly I am now ageing in dog years and there are occasions when I’ve recoiled in horror at the mirror and wondered who the hell summoned Beetlejuice during the night. Normally my morning routine will consist of me jabbing at my face with various make up brushes until I look less like the living dead, drinking coffee and handling an exuberant four year old, whilst I feel like dying of tiredness is an actual possibility. Sometimes my first thought in a morning is ‘I can’t wait to go to bed tonight’ not that that works, as soon as my head hits the pillow, old brain is there with replays of unfortunate incidences past.
I’m sure in time Harriet will stop wanting to come in to our room and I’m certain I’ll end up missing her terribly. Mind you, then I’ll have no one but myself to blame for my poor sleep. Maybe I’ll have to try lavender baths and copious amounts gin.