Single Parenting: An Adventure in Exhaustion
It’s been two years since I became a single mom to five wonderfully lovable and exhausting children. Pretty sure I never really understood exhaustion until now. Oh, I would complain about being tired, but I had idea!!
The defining word of my experience as a single parent is exhaustion. Hard as I try, I cannot get a good night’s sleep. Even if I go to bed at a reasonable hour (and that is all relative), someone wakes me. The “wake Momma up” options are limitless. I think I am destined to be deliriously tired.
Single parenting and sleep deprivation — a match made in … ummmm … well, it’s a match.
My bedtime routines seem endless — and I’m not referring to facial creams. I’m talking about spending quality time with each of my children. It takes hours — really, hours. When all my sweeties are in bed or at least in the vicinity of bed, I begin lunches, laundry, dishes, and general mom-tasks.
My bedtime is usually the next day (aka after midnight). I think I might sleep about two-to-three hours before the wake-mamma mission commences. I so want to be the middle-of-the-night hero. I want to be the sweet, patient, loving mommy 24/7. The reality, however, is I can’t because unlike the Lord, I do slumber and sleep. I must slumber and sleep. My children need to slumber and sleep.
It is difficult to nighttime parent. I tend to do all the wrong things. My first inclination is to throw the covers back and let them climb in, decreasing my sleep even more (if that were possible). Anyone who wants prayer for a bad dream usually gets the most uninspired prayer and, “Ok, you’re fine. No, really, you’re fine.” If you are simply sharing your sleeping woes, you probably get, “Really?!?” See? Not the sweet, loving mommy I want to be.
The state of near-comatose exhaustion is making it hard to accomplish anything well or with a good attitude. I have all these grand plans to get my family organized, my home ordered, chores scheduled, adventures planned, and more sleep! For some reason, it isn’t all coming together as easily as I imagined.
I’m realizing that much of my life is not as I imagined. I never imagined being blessed with five children. I never imagined being a single mom. I never imagined that at 42, I would be living this life; I really thought I would be well-rested by this stage of my life. I’ll be lucky to live through this stage of my life.
The beauty of it — even in the midst of my ridiculously not well-rested life — is the clarity I have found, the realization of what is truly important. I’m trusting God to use this season to make me into the woman He wants me to be. I believe despite my lack of sleep, God will give me grace to face each day with a new determination to love and live well.
I have decided that sleep is overrated. Sure, it’s good to keep the wrinkles away, the joints from aching, and the head from spinning, but I have found that lots of things are funnier when you’re exhausted. I always have something to complain about, and I wouldn’t give up snuggling with my sweeties for just a few more winks anyway!