I spend half my nights sleeping in my guest bedroom. Sometimes, the cat joins me. Mostly, I am alone.
I spend half my nights sleeping in my guest bedroom. Sometimes, the cat joins me. Usually, I am alone.

I am happily married. But lately, I sleep alone. So does Steve. And it’s all Evan’s fault.

You’re not supposed to blame the kids when the family hits a rough patch, but I’m going to anyway. Evan is a wonderful child of boundless joy, but he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. Every goddamned day. It’s been like this, more or less, since we got back from China on March 20, so Steve and I  have been operating on interrupted, truncated and/or inadequate sleep for over seven months. I know I’m not gonna get any sympathy from parents of infants, but it’s my blog, and I’m exhausted.

Steve and I have always done Evan Duty in shifts. One night, one of us would be on for the early wake-up, and the other would sleep until 6:15 — the time we’ve decided is acceptable to begin the day. We call the 6:15 shift “Eggs,” because it’s what the little prince usually wants for his breakfast. The next night, we’d switch. But the fact is, when Evan comes trundling in at 5:30 a.m., he inevitably wakes the off-duty parent, too. So a few weeks ago, we reluctantly decided that one of us should get a decent night’s sleep, and spend the night in the blissfully quiet guest room. And sleep alone.

Here is a list of things we’ve tried to get Evan to sleep through the night, which includes waking up at a normal time:

  • Bringing him into our bed. He wasn’t into it.
  • Making a bed next to our bed. He wasn’t into it.
  • One parent sleeping on the floor in Evan’s room. Evan was super into this, but sleeping on a profoundly uncomfortable Thermarest is not a longterm solution. Also, our pediatrician told us we were prolonging the problem.
  • Taking out his tonsils and adenoids. Evan had very enlarged tonsils, which is common with kids who’ve had cleft palate. We hoped the surgery would help with his godawful snoring and his night waking. And it did do that. It just didn’t do anything about his urge to get up before dawn.
  • Killing his nap. This made Evan unbearable by 5:00 p.m., and also, he fell asleep in the car if we were in it for longer than 90 seconds. Once, I had Bini and his buddy in the car, and they were singing “Uptown Funk” at the top of their lungs and Evan still fell asleep.
  • Waking him in the middle of the night to go potty, which is normally what wakes him up at dawn. This was horrible.
  • Cutting off liquids an hour before bed. That did nothing.
  • Putting him to bed later. He still appeared next to me at 5:30 a.m. groaning “Maaaaammaaaaaaaaa…..”

I’ve consulted several sleep books, and our pediatrician. The books all said that some children are just early risers, which is just not acceptable. NOT ACCEPTABLE. 6:15? I can live with that. 6:30? Sounds luxurious at this point. But 5:30 a.m. is just too early. It is. It is it is it is. Our pediatrician was very empathetic and promised that Evan would grow out of it. OK. Not super comforting, but I’m clinging to that. Until then, this is the hell that we’re living:

7:30 p.m. Evan goes to bed.

7:45 p.m. Evan is asleep.

10:00 p.m. Steve and I look forlornly at each other and say good night. One of us stays upstairs to sleep, and the other goes to the guest bedroom.

5:30 a.m. Upstairs sleeper intercepts Evan and takes him to pee. Returns him to his bed and, depending on how tired he seems, tries to get him to go back to sleep, or flips on the light and lets him play until his “OK to Wake” clock turns green at 6:15.

5:40 a.m. Upstairs sleeper tries to go back to sleep, but it’s pointless. Particularly considering that Evan often comes out at 5:50 a.m. and reports that he needs to poop. Other times, he stays in his room and falls asleep. Sometimes, he is defiant and comes out, screaming, but we’re FIRM PARENTS and we take him back to bed and Bini usually wakes up at this point and is surly as all get-out and that’s when you know it’s going to be a really crappy day.

6:15 a.m. Evan appears by the bed with his glowing clock crowing “Green! Green!” Meanwhile, the downstairs sleeper’s alarm goes off.

6:20 a.m. Downstairs sleeper and upstairs sleeper meet in the kitchen with Evan. Downstairs sleeper takes over Evan-wrangling, and usually, Bini-wrangling because Bini hears Evan get up and thinks it’s “unfair” that Evan “gets” to be up early. We’ve given up yelling at him about it.

6:21 a.m. Upstairs sleeper staggers back to bed until 7:45.

6:22 a.m. Downstairs sleeper begins to make eggs.

Last night, we went to a party and at 10:45 p.m. Steve and I starting looking at each other in a panic. I couldn’t even enjoy my last cocktail because I knew I would pay for it dearly at 5:30. This is no kind of life, where you can’t enjoy a cocktail at 10:45 p.m. because of your 3-year-old child. This is tyranny. This is madness. And until Evan can wipe his own butt, this is our reality.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s 10:03.

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