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Amanda Lamb: Sweet dreams

Posted October 9, 2011

One of the biggest secrets about parenting that no one tells you is that you will not sleep again until your kids are eighteen, and I'm told even then that you lay awake worrying about them.

When children are babies, they get up to feed in the middle of the night. This is something that most people are aware of as they enter parenthood, but you can never truly grasp what it must feel like to be a prisoner of war until you operate on a just few hours of sleep day after day.

When your child finally sleeps through the night, you mistakenly think you've turned a corner, but this is designed to lull us into a false sense of security, a sense that you might just return to those eight-hour nights that you enjoyed pre-child. Think again. Not only is your body programmed to sleep only until 6 a.m. (this includes Saturdays and vacations), but you have things to do at night - homework to check, baths to give, lunches to pack, laundry to fold. Plus, kids still get up in the middle of the night even when they are well beyond the baby years.

The other night my older daughter woke up after having a nightmare. I reassured her and took her back to bed, stroking he forehead and speaking to her softly as she slowly drifted back to sleep with the corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly in an almost-smile.

Not two hours a later, a thunderstorm woke my younger daughter. She appeared at the edge of my bed, climbed in and wrapped herself around me like an octopus. As I rubbed her back softly in a circular motion, I could begin to feel her rapid breathing slow down. I brushed her bangs away from her eyes and pressed my lips to her warm forehead.

Suddenly, I was overcome with another truism about parenting: Sleep is overrated.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

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  • anclontz Oct 10, 2011

    Wow, this is sooo true! I thought I had finally gotten my sleep back when my daughter, now 7 months, learned to sleep through the night around 6 weeks...However, I found myself never really going into a deep sleep. I have a feeling I will never be able to deep sleep again! Great post!

  • amlNC Oct 10, 2011

    Sometimes I wish my 7 month old would just sleep through the night, but the nights she does, I miss her so much. Those middle of the night feedings are a special time between us!

  • missparrothead Oct 10, 2011

    I couldn't help but laugh at your post, because its so true! One phase replaces another. As a co-worker said to me yrs ago, the day you become a parent, you will be one 24/7, forever!

  • mrsbowen Oct 10, 2011

    Just as my 4 year old and 2 year old boys were settling into very tolerable sleep habits, the man upstairs surprised us with a precious little girl. Nothing lights a night more beautifully than sparkling baby eyes!

  • grannybam07 Oct 10, 2011

    Mother of one, 27 yrs old now, still wake up around 3 am - pray he has a safe day at work (he's on the road most of the day & leaves for work around that time) then fall back asleep. Would I trade this interruption every night? Not a chance!

  • hodgesfour Oct 10, 2011

    How true! With children 13 and almost 9, I still rarely sleep all night long.