Summer vacation certainly seems luxurious and decadent for a stay-at-home mom. Imagine no set alarms or real reason to rise early in the morning. I live for non-busy weekends, holidays and vacations, so I can sleep in. And yet, it rarely happens due to a major wrench in my dreamy plans…my kids.
Sleeping in is a treasured teenage pastime. I loved snuggling in bed and not moving. Of course, I never slept till noon because of my mom. She’d drive me crazy by walking into my room at a “reasonable hour” and snapping up the shades. Before that, through the mist of slumber, I could hear her (intentionally?) banging pots and pans together in the kitchen. She just wanted us to enjoy the bright, glorious, sunshiny day! Throwing a pillow at her wasn’t an option.
Even when she worked full-time, she’d pointedly call our home phone and redial until my sister or I picked up, said we were up and went back to bed. As long as the chores were done, and we were dressed, what she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her!
Napping was never the right solution, either. My body only naps due to the following maladies: pregnancy, sickness, extreme lack of sleep or that enforced preschool naptime where I’d lay in virtual shell shock, ready to escape from my sentence. As a toddler, my mom reluctantly consented to me watching TV with my eyes glazed over.
A former night owl, I now find myself drifting off at night. I fall asleep, almost against my will, waking up much later, disoriented, with a crick in my neck, scrunched up on the couch. When a free morning is on the horizon, I dream of a time where midnight was deemed an early night. Staying up late, alone, with nothing but free time, was reason enough to be a vampire.
I blame the sun for my early risers. My children are not babies who need changing or comforting or cannot rouse themselves from a crib. They are 9 and 6. It’s bad enough that our house brings in a wash of sunlight. I’ve remedied that problem by investing in an eye mask which I don right before the sun peaks in and recently discovered room-darkening curtains that really block out the light.
However, either I wake up having to pee and hop down a short staircase to our bathroom, or one or both of my kids creeps up the stairs, one noisily, stomping her feet; one like a mouse at the crack of dawn. They dive under the covers, interrupting my sleep, patting me, rustling around, and talking. Yes, I love them, but please, wait until at least 7:30am to love me!
My husband allows me to sleep in when possible, but I hear them congregating three floors down with cabinets banging, and children fighting over the couch and toys that probably cost all of 25 cents. If I’m lucky, he’ll take them out. And to think I wanted another sleep interrupter?!?
After I went into a cranky tirade that I wasn’t to be disturbed unless there was a serious, life-threatening problem, we instructed the kids on how to use the TV remotes. Didn’t they want to run downstairs, watch cartoons and grab a sugary bowl of cereal or a fruit-filled Pop Tart like I used to do?
The first morning of summer vacation, they immediately headed downstairs, instead of interrupting me from my beauty sleep, desperately needed with the silent but deadly gradual appearance of gray and white wisps of hair. I woke up to the muted sound of knocking. Then a whisper, “Mom, the TV isn’t working!” I mumbled and rolled over. Rising a short time later, shocked by the bright sunlight, my son returned and reiterated his complaint. I stumbled downstairs, spying a blue TV screen with a cryptic message. Even the TV wanted to intervene with my bed love affair!
The experiment continues and, hopefully, the result will be free mornings spent sleeping in. However, the dream is on hold until August when summer school and camp end. And, really, how important is sleep when I could be spending time with children who someday will be sleeping in and not wanting to be disturbed themselves?
M.B. Sanok is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living with her family in Southern New Jersey. She is a contributing writer for Jersey Moms Blog, South Jersey MOM and Virtua for Women. Her work has also appeared on MetroKids MomSpeak, BlogHer, BonBon Break, Moms Who Write and Blog, the Original Bunker Punks, Midlife Boulevard, Project UnderBlog, Mom Babble and Mamalode. In her spare time, she volunteers for the International MOMS Club, a non-profit support group for stay-at-home moms.
Her personal blog is Maple Brown Sugar: www.maplebrownsugar.wordpress.