Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sheepless Nights

Before I had children, when my parents told me that they lost sleep worrying about myself and my siblings, I was certain they were being overly dramatic in the endlessly creative way parents devise to scare their kids into better behavior -- If you don't finish your dinner, throngs of starving children will suffer.. If you don't properly turn off the sink, the oceans will run dry. They had a point -- world hunger and water shortages are quite real –  but they aren't exactly hinged on your single plate of rejected veggies or your lackadaisically dripping tap.

However, I can say with certainty that on the matter of lost sleep, I was wrong (yes Mom and Dad - I admit it! You were right!). I've learned that being a parent means vast amounts of lost sleep -- well past the stamina-crushing newborn days (months). Fear of dreams and the dark, benign desires for drinks and cuddles, and occasional childhood illnesses, all take their toll on your REM count; but by and far worry is the biggest contributor to the overall deficit. The night before last was one such wakefully worried night for me.

I'd been hoping that tapping into resources for new therapies related to the Autism diagnosis would feel like an immediate positive step, but I found myself stressed about cost and stymied by waiting lists. I'd been hoping that observing the Special Ed Kindergarten (ECLS) Program at Simon's current school would ease my concerns about his education next year. Instead, I left feeling unsure and full of questions. I'm trying to have faith that everything will be resolved both well and positively for Simon's education and therapy plans in due course, but, nonetheless, I'm filled to the brim with anxiety over it (in addition to my usual worry about his more general well-being).

For hours, I tried to think about other things. I tried to breathe deeply, to make my mind blank, to chant spiritual mantras. I drank an entire pot of sleep-inducing tea, and read an equally soporific book. I tried to count sheep, but I found that they had been eaten one by one by the ravenous pack of wolves comprising my unbridled anxiety at 2... 3... 4 o'clock in the morning.

Last night started the same way. At 3 am, when Simon crept into my bedroom wide awake, I wasn't asleep either. I thought about putting him back to bed (a cardinal rule in our house is that everyone sleeps in their own beds) but the truth was, I wanted to cuddle with him. Lately, whenever I am overwhelmed by Simon's myriad "issues," I've found that the best tamper for my ratcheting anxiety level is simply spending time with Simon. Letting him be, and allowing myself to bask in his sweet Simon-ness makes everything feel like it will be alright, no matter what challenges we face. At that one moment, we are just fine.

I can't say I got any sleep -- a squirmy wide-awake preschooler isn't exactly a restful bedtime companion -- but I had peace. My sheep may have been eaten, but my little lamb is safe in my arms and all is well with the world.


  1. I remember specifically telling my parents, in high school, that their worrying about me when I was out and about late at night was "not my problem." I definitely thought they were complete fools to insist on staying awake until I'd made it safely home. My mom always told me, "Someday you'll see. You'll have kids and then you'll understand."

    Mom was right. My eldest is not quite 3 and I dread the day he gets his driver's license. Dread it.

  2. OMG -- driving! Ack! Suddenly it seems like the most insane thing on the planet.. letting a kid (albeit 16!) behind the wheel! How can that not cause heart attacks?