Sleepless days and sleepless nights

Recently, many of my Facebook friends have become new mommies. When I read their posts, I can practically hear the exhaustion in their voices. But it is an exhaustion that is overshadowed by love. I’ve got five kids, so I totally get it. Two of mine are adults now, and the youngest just turned five, so it has been a few years since I’ve felt the utter fatigue that goes with being a new mom. But it’s something you never forget.

Hubby developed a habit of asking every morning, “Were the kids up last night?” I finally told him to stop asking. The fact that he could sleep through anything really irritated me.

After one particularly difficult night, I started the day out in a groggy stupor, trudging through the house with a fussy infant in one arm and pulling an angry toddler by the hand. I was tempted to give in to her plea for a breakfast of Cheetos and root beer, but being the dedicated mother that I am, I insisted on a hot breakfast. I briefly toyed with the idea of popping the Cheetos into the microwave so we could both have our way, but decided on scrambled eggs instead.

Toddler liked to help with the cooking so I showed her how to crack eggs. Inexplicably, she managed to get her tiny thumb stuck inside of one. Letting out a mighty yell, she flung the egg off of her thumb and onto the floor. From his highchair perch, infant boy thought this was a great show and added to the excitement by tossing his bottle directly into the raw egg.

I grabbed a towel and waited for the tap water to get hot. I should have known when I turned back around toddler would be dipping both hands into the egg bowl, slurping as fast as she could.

I washed her hands and strapped her into her booster seat. Raw egg dried in her bangs, causing them to stick straight up in a fashion similar to that scene in “Something about Mary.”

Infant boy was a messy eater, blowing happy raspberries and grabbing at the spoon as it made its way to his mouth. I had quite a pile of wadded napkins when toddler decided to start throwing her scrambled eggs. I quickly reached for her plate and two sticky napkins adhered themselves to my armpit. With a sigh I declared breakfast was over and herded everyone to the living room for a Barney video.

Toddler was attempting to fill her diaper, but she prefers her privacy, so I gave her some space by going to the kitchen to clean up the raw egg, and then the dining room to clean up the scrambled egg.

By the time I made my way back to the living room there was poop on the recliner, the carpet, the television screen, and added to toddler’s raw-egg hairdo. “Don’t touch another thing!” I ordered. She froze with an innocent look on her face and two brown hands in the air.

After an extended bath time, I disinfected the living room, and was surprised to see that it wasn’t even mid-morning. The rest of the day was a blur of temper tantrums (toddler’s and mine).

When infant boy was finally asleep for the night, I cradled him in my arms and made my way to the stairs. I thought the wooden baby gate was open, but could hear splintering as I stumbled and crashed right through it. I managed to protect the baby by keeping my arms wrapped around him instead of reaching out to break my fall.

When I finally made it to bed, I could already feel bruises forming. I slept two solid hours before becoming vaguely aware of the sound of an infant crying and a toddler at my bedside saying in her happiest, most helpful big sister voice, “Mommy! Baby awake! Baby awake!”

The toddler and baby years are exhausting, but hang in there, mamas. I promise it gets easier. In the words of Nicholas Sparks, “Love is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day.”

And night.

About Ginger Truitt

Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Her award-winning newspaper column appears weekly across the Midwest. Recently, she was also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood.

I'd love to hear from you!