It’s common to think everyone else around you with children is dealing with it all so much better. Why is it you imagine they must be coping with those multiple wake-ups with ease and grace compared to your bitchy altercations with one another at the witching hour? It’s because most people – even some close friends – understandably don’t want to let their guard down.
We’re also all obsessed with social media and rather than regularly conversing with someone about how their day, weekend, or recent trip was, we just look at split-second snap-shots. If you actually consider the span of time a photograph captures it is infinitesimally small compared even to the length of one afternoon. Yet we accept as gospel that picture of the young family you know, beaming away in spite of the raging storm behind them and the lack of sleep, and presume their whole life is like that. If we just sat back, took a deep breath, and thought rationally about it, we’d obviously come to the conclusion this isn’t possible. We all have our good and bad moments and it is incredibly important to remember this. I’m absolutely not against celebrating upbeat, funny, inspiring or joyous moments – these need to be cherished and shared. But I also think it’s perfectly healthy – and potentially extremely important for your mental well-being – to be open about things that haven’t gone exactly to plan. I can promise you won’t be alone.
The other day I was at the pub with some mates (even with food this now occasional past time left me with a rotten hangover the next day) and the subject of sleep came up. The group was made up of people in various marital and familial situations. Myself and another dad did our best ‘you just get used to it, honestly, it’s fine’ speeches as steadfastly as possible in response to the sleep queries from the others who will, no doubt, be having kids of their own in the next few years.
But one nugget of the conversation was the other father, who is a very placid chap, acknowledging he and his wife of course have snapped at each other on occasion when it’s 3am, they’re both tired and the baby has been resisting sleep like a wrestler trying to escape a submission hold.
While it was brilliantly reassuring to hear such an honest admittance, it also made me think: ‘Of course they do’. Who wouldn’t? You’ve been woken up several times, you’re bloody exhausted, one of you put the little one back to sleep the last time, you just don’t want to get up, you’ve been bloody trying, gosh bloody darn it.
It just made me realise that as a parent you are exceptional – raising a child is no easy task – but you’re also not the exception. Most people piss off their other half at 2.30am in the bloody morning when the baby has chuffing woken up again.
Just be nice to each other the next day.