Parenthood: A Panic Disorder

The recent time change handed Marlo’s sleep schedule several hits of acid and said, listen, you’re going to want to take all of these at the same time. Don’t worry about hiding it from your mother. When you start to see the purple dancing elephants, chase them through the house. Narrate everything out loud.

She is normally up between 5:30-6:00AM. That’s not too insane, no, but I’ve got a certain set of rules that I live by, things as basic as always tipping at least 25% and waving thank you to strangers who let me pull in front of them in traffic. BASIC ETIQUETTE. And I’m sorry, but living life before 7AM is just plain rude.

There are many mornings when I will go into her room when she is awake, lie down beside her and tell her that it’s not time to get up yet. Depending on her mood, she will talk to herself for the next hour while I try to catch a few more minutes of sleep. Sometimes, however, she gets really bored. Like the one time she was singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider over and over again only to lose her mind and scream, “THIS IS JUST CRAZY.”

This is just crazy.

Wait, excuse me. Let me rewrite that: THISTH ISTH JUSTHT CRAZTHY.

She had a very good point. And I’m sure that when she’s swapping stories with roommates in college she’s going to be like, no. LISTEN. My mother wouldn’t let me get out of my bed before 7 AM because of some RULE she made up in her head, and when I pointed out that she was crazy, you know what she did? She nodded and stuck her wet finer in my ear. I WAS THREE.

She’s going through that dreaded transition between taking a two-hour afternoon nap and not taking a nap at all whatsoever, so when you throw this time change into things anything can happen. Anything at all. Fires, floods, lava flows. She’s capable of it all. Which is why I should have expected what happened this morning to happen, but I wasn’t prepared at all. This is my second kid, for crying out loud. Nothing should faze the mother of a second kid. A second kid breaks her skull open and instead of rushing her to the hospital you lick your thumb and forefinger to wipe off the blood.

5:30AM came and she wasn’t awake. 6AM came and she wasn’t awake. 6:30AM, 6:45AM, 6:50AM. Leta was in her room calmly reading when I rushed through her door and shout-whispered, “WHAT DO YOU THINK IS WRONG WITH HER?!”

“With… who?” she asked, totally confused.

“WITH YOUR SISTER,” I clarified, my eyes wide with worry.

“What… what is going on, Mom?”

She isn’t awake.”

“Because she’s sleeping?” And she said it like she didn’t want to hurt my feelings but she was pretty sure that she had just figured out that I am super dumb.

“Yes, but why is she sleeping? Your sister does not ever sleep in and with this time change—”

“Because she’s tired?” she interrupted.

“Hm… you don’t think she’s dead?”

This made her laugh hysterically, and Leta’s laugh could bring peace to the Middle East. I instantly snapped out of it and started to think about this strange dynamic between parents and kids. You get so frustrated with your children when they wake up early, and then you get just as frustrated when they sleep in and scare you to death. You know they aren’t doing either on purpose, but the irrational part of your brain is like why are you doing this to me when you know how much I love you?

Once you have children you live inside that question for the rest of your life.