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The Case For Sleep

The Case For Sleep

As a (former) trial attorney, I’ve actually thought of some pretty compelling closing arguments that I could deliver to Tiny Boss, convincing him that the only reasonable decision, given the facts at hand, is for him to lay down, close his eyes, and drift off peacefully into an eight-hour-slumber. What I didn’t realize is that this same message needs to be said, and said again, to moms everywhere, myself included.

Sleep. I know you can come back to me with that verdict.

Hey toddler: the evidence will show that sleeping is the only reasonable thing to do.

A little background on why I’m coming up with closings on sleep for a one-year-old: tonight was the first time this week that we didn’t have to drive Tiny Boss around to get him to fall asleep for the night. My son is like a drug-resistant microbe. We’re constantly changing our methods of inducing sleep because he seems to adapt and become immune to each routine after a while.

Our latest routine is to play the “We Are Young” music video by Fun (how ironic) on the iPad and drive down straight roads with mostly green lights until Tiny Boss knocks out for the night. I don’t know what it is about this music video that makes him sleep, but the lord works in mysterious ways. By the way, if you don’t have an iPad mount for the car, I highly recommend this one, which was a gift from my dad.

As a result of our latest sleep battles, I’ve been exhausted, and I was planning on writing a lighthearted post about fatigue, stress, and motherhood, until I came across this heartbreaking story, written by Stephanie Gray in remembrance of her son Joel.

Last summer, Stephanie Gray lost her five month old son to heat stroke because she had forgotten to drop him off at day care, leaving him in his car seat instead while she went back home, where she runs her own law practice.

When I read this, my heart went out to her. I can’t imagine the pain she has gone through. Like me, Stephanie Gray is a work-from-home attorney. I completely understood where she was coming from when she said her mind was on her cases that morning and how her practice was in a complete disarray. The day of that horrible accident was the first day she would have all four of her kids out of the house. This would give her uninterrupted time to catch up on work.

I totally get it – when I have just one kid out of the house, my mind goes into a frenzy trying to figure out what I can and should get done. Alone time is the most precious commodity when you’re a mom, especially a work from home or stay at home mother.

Jeanne Sager over at The Stir wrote a really good article defending Stephanie Gray, pointing out that on the day of the accident, she would have been dropping Joel off for only his second day of daycare – meaning, this was a new routine for the family. She points out that parents depend on routines:

“When you’re a mom, especially mom of a baby, routines are everything. They keep us functioning when we’ve had so little sleep we can barely stand up. The little stuff (ahem, showering, washing the dishes), might not get done, but as long as you’ve got a routine down for the big stuff , your body can function on a sort of auto-pilot.”

This is true. But it made me think, how often do we mothers, go on autopilot? I know it’s somewhat of a necessary evil, but if we can all somehow to get some help when we need it, maybe we can avoid tragedies like Stephanie Gray’s, or even simple, stupid mistakes we all make as parents that could be avoided.

If only I looked this good sleepy. What? The 90s are making a comeback.

If only I looked this good sleepy. What? The 90s are making a comeback.

When I was a new mom, I was exhausted from breastfeeding and taking care of Tiny Boss every night. Diaper changes, feeding – these were all my tasks, and mine alone. I let my husband sleep during the night – my attorney brain convinced me that because my husband was the main breadwinner, I would let him get as much sleep as possible so he wouldn’t be tired at work.

I didn’t yet realize that 1) as a parent, he signed up for this and 2) I needed sleep as well because it’s dangerous to take care of an infant when you’re as fatigued as I was. Here’s a mommy confession: I was so tired, I dropped Tiny Boss twice because I fell asleep while holding him.

The first time, I was nursing him in bed. I don’t remember falling asleep, but the next thing I knew, Tiny Boss had rolled out of my arms and landed on the edge of our bed. Fortunately, the nightstand was there, otherwise he would have completely fallen to the floor. I’m also grateful he didn’t land face first into a blanket or a pillow, or suffocate.

The second time, I was nursing Tiny Boss on our couch. I fell asleep and woke up because my arm had also relaxed, causing Tiny Boss’ head to hit the armrest with a horrifying clunk. He cried, but fell back asleep quickly. That was the first time I had hit his head.

But I was fortunate. Beyond lucky. I swear Tiny Boss has someone watching over him because of incidents like this, and others – for example, the two times I forgot to strap down his car seat in the rental car, and who knows what else.

Now that Dad's on board, he's just as tired as me! Yay!

This is pretty much what happens every time we try to put Tiny Boss to bed. But now that my husband’s on board, he’s just as tired as me! Yay!

Now I know my limits better. Although it’s hard for me to ask for help, I try my best to do it. I still have a hard time carving out that alone time, but I’m improving. I have to do it – not just to be a safe and effective parent, but also to feel kind of like a normal person, at least from time to time.

By the way, if you still aren’t convinced about the necessity of alone time as a mother, read “What We Mean When We Say We Need A Break” by Amanda King. It’s worth your five minutes. Which you can spare, by the way.



I used to think being an attorney was a tough job. Then I had kids.

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