This morning I woke up and wondered what was poking my stomach. I brushed my hands over my body and about 40 Fritos corn chips fell off back onto the sheets. It took a moment for my brain to understand why this was happening. Then it all came back. Oh, yes. I’d been up half the night with Rachel, my younger daughter who has autism. After she’d climbed in bed with me, she’d said something like “chip.” In desperate need of sleep, I stumbled downstairs and got her a bowl of Fritos. They must have spilled. But then I must have finally slept.

As my brain sparked to life, I thought of The Princess and the Pea story. I’d like to see Part Two entitled: Three Children Later. It would go something like this:

Once upon a time, there lived a prince, a princess, and their three children under the age of four. As the first rays of sunlight peaked in through the castle windows and a robin started a cheerful morning song, the princess opened her eyes as something quite solid kicked her in the nose. It felt like a small foot.

She sat up and half a box of Royal Circle-O’s cereal brushed off her cheek. Her spit-up stained gown shone in the morning light, and her half-coiffed hair spilled onto the pillow, which provided the youngest of the three adorable princes with a chance to test his gripping and yanking strength.

“What happened?” she asked the robin singing in the window. The last thing she remembered was stumbling into bed with cereal for one of the boys so he would maybe go back to sleep. That had been at 3:00 in the morning.

The robin stopped its song to answer. It took one look at her and fell backward off the window sill then went to the kingdom across the sea in search of a single princess’s window ledge.

Her back creaked as she stretched. The enormous bed she’d once shared with her handsome prince featured an army of toy soldiers, a pride of stuffed lions, three sterling silver sippie cups, and three small princes sleeping like babies—babies who were sprawled out and hogging all the covers. As she tried to stand, her legs reminded her that circulation only happened when she didn’t sleep in the shape of a pretzel on the bottom corner of the bed huddled under a slobber-stained blankie for warmth.

She tiptoed over the floor to avoid the Royal-Building-Blocks-With-Tiny-Pieces-That-Pierce-Skin and tripped over the Royal dog, who had a note sticking out of his mouth. She grabbed it.

“Dear Princess, After our charming second son pushed me onto the floor, I moved to the throne to get a few hours of shut-eye. Will be back after lunch. I have an appointment with the Royal chiropractor and the Royal surgeon, who will remove the blocks from my shoulder and heel. Good luck. All my love, Prince Charming.”

Coming up next … Sleeping Beauty Part Two: Sleep-Deprived Beauty and the “Lazy Prince” Recliner.