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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Sweet dreams

Posted October 9, 2011 8:41 p.m. EDT

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.