My son must have understood from day one that he would be living in two countries in dramatically different time zones. I think he was born with jet lag. He screamed and yelled at us for hours on the very first night of his arrival to the world. The nurses had him in the nursery for only a few minutes doing those required tests and when they returned him they mentioned how his wailing was getting on the nerves of the other babies. I was in love, so I didn’t care until a couple days later when I was drunk with sleep and unable to go on. It was the beginning of the end for sleep in my life.
I’ve been told by veteran moms that when your children are little you don’t sleep with the feedings and the nightmares and restlessness, then when they’re older it’s the worry about what they’re doing, who they’re with, and their future that keeps you up. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that sleep is now a luxury that I might not get to have again for about 50 or 60 years. Remember when losing a night’s sleep was the result of a party or talking to your beloved until the wee hours? What happened to those days?
Still, I could do the “sleep while baby is sleeping” plan alpha moms are always talking about. But Baby Boy’s never really caught onto the idea of a routine. Really, he has never caught onto the concept of sleeping in general. For the last few weeks, he has refused to take an afternoon nap, which is fine, except that he then falls asleep sometime between 5 and 8 p.m. I try to help him fight the sleep. Shouting, getting him undressed, jumping around like a frog on speed. I try not to give him milk at this bewitching hour because that milk coma does nothing but destroy all the work I’ve put into keeping him awake. When he’s dozing off, he looks like a drunk going into a blackout. He is a milkaholic, I’ll admit it. His eyes flutter, he slides off the pillow where he appeared to just be resting his head, and he clutches Mickey Mouse. A couple hours later he wakes up as if it’s daytime all over again. I work until midnight (because I keep American hours), so it’s fine until then. At midnight, when my husband and I want to go to sleep, Baby Boy is throwing his toy cars around and yanking our arms to join him. He’s laughing so hard that he starts to cry. He’s running from one room to another. He has defeated us. We know not what to do – anything except sleep.
My only hope is that Baby Boy’s simply keeping American hours himself. After all, when he stays up until 3 a.m. in Italy, it’s actually 9 p.m. in the States, which is around when he used to go to bed (notice I didn’t write sleep but rather bed). How ever will I rationalize his night-owl behavior when we’re back in America? Ahhh, I still have a few months to come up with something. Hey, at least I’ll have something to ponder in the middle of the night when my son is sticking his finger in my ear to wake me up and play.