Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Courting the God Morpheus

S'okay - I realize that it's been almost a month since I last blogged - and that was from the hospital. Hopefully there are a few of you still out there checking in periodically, so I wanted to say hi and blog about something that's been on my mind lately - and that is sleep.

I know there's a bunch of research saying how adults actually need more sleep than we used to think - 9 hours is not considered too much. But what I've been up against lately is the full set of cultural baggage surrounding sleep and what it says about your status in life, your responsibility level, laziness, etc.

Here's the deal: I like to sleep. A lot. I like staying up late and sleeping late. Having twins puts a cramp in this, obviously. But, having twins and 3 surgeries in 9 months makes it mandatory that I get enough sleep, in my opinion. But what is enough? It's not just what each individual body needs - and that differs greatly from person to person. It's what other people think you should have.

The baggage is this, I think:

1) If you "sleep in" (i.e., after, say 8 or 9 am), you're either an infant, a college student, unemployed, and/or lazy.
2) If you're a parent and you're not sleep deprived or if you don't get up for the day at 5-6 when your children initially arise, you're a bad parent.
3) If you nap during the day (either when you should be working or when someone else is taking care of your children b/c you pay them to), you're lazy and you're a bad parent.
4) If you need 9-10 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, you're probably depressed.

It's funny b/c when babies are first born, they tell parents to sleep when they sleep, which means you're supposed to catnap all day, which is impossible b/c - you know - I'm an adult. BUT, when they get older, sleep through the night, and wake up at 6, you should get up, too.

Sirs Guy and Miles awaken anywhere between 4:45-6:30 and want their morning bottle. I stagger out of bed, give it to them, change their diapers, throw some toys into their cribs, and then stumble back to bed, where I put EAR PLUGS in and an eye pillow and sleep as long as I bloody can - sometimes until 8:45 if they don't freak out. Now, they are fed, safe, not sitting in their own filth, and (hopefully) not too bored. I can hear them scream through my ear plugs (at which point, I would get up and take care of them), but the plugs keep out the babbling and vigorous shaking of rattle toys that would otherwise impede my sleep. During the day, I often sneak home and sleep for an hour and a half, especially if the boys are at my mom's during the day. I know parents who have told me that they wouldn't trade the couple of hours they get to spend with their children before daycare for anything in the world - I sleep.

The thing is, I feel guilty about this. Why? Partly b/c TD, and I love him, doesn't get as much sleep b/c he has an hour commute and HAS to be at work for 8 hours a day. So, he's resentful. Medieval Pop and Mom both have always been early to bed, early to risers (goddam Ben Franklin) - but they act like it's some kind of MORAL INDEX when they get up early - probably again, b/c of goddam Ben Franklin. Medieval Pop was just visiting for the weekend and would get very resentful when I'd sleep in until 9am (also because I wasn't taking care of his needs, entertaining him, and feeding him early enough, but that's another post). But, he felt morally superior - like I wasn't facing the day and taking care of my children. I've realized just how prevalent the idea of the inherent morality of rising early and (potentially) sleeping too little really is - along with that comes the condescension (whether because of jealousy or otherwise) with which those people deal with those (like me) who need and take more sleep.

I've promised myself that I would stop apologizing for sleeping "too much" - and at some point, I will stop reminding my family that I've have health problems, etc. - because that dog won't hunt much longer. I've been frantically trying to find ways to explain my need for and desire to sleep longer than most of those around me - but the question is: should I? My work gets done, my classes get taught, my children are happy, healthy and loved. I don't feel like I do the bare minimum on any of these things (although some days I do - so do we all).

Why can't I get completely past the guilt, though?