No Rest for the Weary...
You know that old, worn out, advice that people give with good intentions to pregnant women: "sleep when the baby sleeps"? I never got that advice. I think most people realized that once I had quadruplets (it actually happened around 18 weeks into the pregnancy), I would never sleep again. I feel like I might be the most permanently exhausted person on the planet. I cannot remember the last time I felt rested. Even when I've forced myself and tried to get my eight hours of sleep, I am still exhausted. Caffeine is what fuels me.
When the babies came home from the NICU, they were on a three hour feeding schedule. The only problem was, it took 1.5 hours to feed all of them. Then I'd still have 30 minutes worth of clean up and preparations for the next feeding to do which meant I got my sleep in about one hour increments.
There was a sweet spot at around 11 months of age, that they'd sleep through the entire night. That lasted for about 9 months but I was foolish and felt things like a clean house and crafting were important and spent those hours working on things that in hindsight, I should have neglected instead of neglecting myself.
Fast forward to four-year-olds. Let me tell you about four-year-old quadruplets. While they are hilarious, tons of fun, and HUGE balls of energy, it seems that they have zapped every ounce of energy that I've ever had flowing through my veins. It's been proven that the average four-year-old asks about 300 questions a day. This means I'm hit with approximately 1,200 questions a day, often in rapid-fire succession and at competing volumes. It's draining. They make messes. Lots of them. As soon as you finish cleaning one, you find another one that somebody else made. You feel like you cannot sit for a moment's rest because if you do, you'll have to pay quadruple for that moment later. Basically, it's living in what I'd imagine a war zone environment to be like.
Then there's the Mom Guilt. I confess. Sometimes, I walk around in a foggy haze not really aware of any of my surroundings. I don't know if it's sensory overload or just plain exhaustion that has me in that state but often, I'll startle myself when I realize they've been asking me the same question on repeat for who knows how long. I don't want them to think that I don't love them or care about what they have to say by any means, so usually at the end of the day, once they're sleeping and cute in their beds again, I'm overwhelmed with guilt for not being able to joyfully answer each and every important question and to spend an appropriate amount of one on one time playing with each kid and reading to them and doing all of the things a mother dreams about doing with her kids.
Once I wallow in that guilt and finish up all of my Mom jobs and TRY to take a few minutes to myself to do things like watch television, read, or write a blog post, I look up and the clock ready somewhere between 11:30 PM and 12:30 AM. I drag myself to the bedroom and throw myself in bed only to pass out instantly with vague recollections of the day. From there, I'm usually woken up at least 6-8 times a night. The dog hears something. Someone wakes up to pee and feels the need to let me know they have to pee. Someone had a bad dream. Someone saw a monster. Someone feels the need to text my phone in the middle of the night. I have to pee. Someone is thirsty. You name it. It happens. All taking away from my precious few hours of sleep.
It seems like, for me at least, the hardest part of single-parenting is not being able to tag out on occasion. I imagine that other parents are able to take turns with bedtimes, take turns sleeping in on the weekends, or heaven forbid, fill in for the other when they're sick. There's no such thing in my world and sometimes, I fear that all my kids are going to remember about their childhood is how tired and cranky their mother was!