When I was pregnant and when both my children were babies I survived on very little sleep.
I functioned as normal. I held down a full-time job. I ran the house. I coped.
Hubby marvelled at how I could get through the day having been up in the night weeing or feeding or comforting.
I said: “I guess girls just don’t need as much sleep as guys”.
Oh boy is that statement coming back to haunt me now.
My 4 year old girl will not go to sleep.
She’s not naughty in the slightest. She brushes her teeth, kisses her brother goodnight, has her bedtime story and gets under the covers.
But then she will chatter to herself, read, draw, talk to her dolls, flip through her photo albums, rummage through her bedside drawer – anything, everything to avoid going to sleep.
I suppose it doesn’t matter, but I just want her to get a good night’s sleep. Her older brother needs a good 11 hours, but Mia? From 7.30pm when they both get into bed, little ‘busy’ noises can be heard in her bedroom until – on one occasion – gone 11pm.
I am pulling my hair out.
“Mummy, I’m. Just. Not. Tired” she sighs, punctuating every word, rolling her eyes and reaching for her make up box.
Her body language says ‘now can you leave the room, stop bothering me and go about your own business. I’m busy’.
Mia, you’re 4 my lovely, not 14 I feel like saying.
Last night I go up at 8pm and she’s got all her new Polly Pocket dolls and clothes in her bed. IN her bed. For those not in the know, Polly Pocket bits and pieces are very small and very easily lost. And she’s got loads of the damn things.
She gathers them up into the tin they call home, painfully slowly, then puts them on her bedside cabinet and gives me a teenage: ‘I’m soooo bored’ look.
“Mia” I say “it’s time to sleep honey. It’s time to give your body and mind a rest so you’ve got lots of energy to play tomorrow at school.”
“But why? Why me? I’m not tired and I’ve got things to do.”
I go back up at 9pm.
As I walk in the room, she snatches the covers over herself and pretends to be asleep.
I pull back the covers. She’s wearing her dressing gown and her slippers. Also her fairy wings.
We exchange a look and she just smiles at me and there is a faint giggle around her lips.
I silently remove the clutter (under her dressing gown she is also wearing 4 belts), tuck her back in and stroke her cheek to remove the stray hairs from her face.
“Mummy. Why aren’t’ you in bed?”
“I’ve got jobs to do my love. I’ve got to get your school things ready, make the packed lunches, make sure Dan’s uniform is all ready.”
Eyes wide, she perks up. “Can I help?”
“No Mia, it’s bed time. You are going to be so tired in the morning if you don’t go to sleep now.”
She tuts and the look in her eye says she’s interpreted that sentence as: ‘It’s bed time but you can stay up and do whatever you like for as long as you like as long as mummy and daddy don’t catch you’.
I go back in at 10pm. She fast asleep with 6 cuddly toys under the covers with her. One of them is actually bigger than her.
There is ink on her white bed covers and I’m seething. Then I notice she’s written a note on a little piece of pink paper and carefully placed it propped up her lamp.
It simply says: ‘Mia’. Except she writes it MiQ. There is a big kiss under it. And I think to myself, this little girl is just wired differently and I should embrace it. She is still exploring and discovering and who I am to stand in the way of that?
And I should absolutely not lose my temper when I’m trying to prize the covers off her at 7.30 tomorrow morning as she’s telling me to ‘just leave me alone’.