There is a story about a former colleague of mine that I have been thinking about a lot. This colleague’s wife called in at the office and could not reach her husband. She asked to speak to his assistant, to determine if he was in Court or at meetings and the assistant said that he was supposed to be at the office but had called in sick.
The wife started thinking all sorts of thoughts because clearly her husband was not home sick. Her husband was not responding to any calls or emails. At the end of the day, her husband returned home and the wife was livid. “Where were you? What were you up to?” The husband, realizing that he had been caught, admitted, “I was at a hotel”. “With who?” asked the wife. “No one,” replied the husband. “I just needed a day to sleep. I needed a day by myself to sleep and not be disturbed.” And he was not lying. The couple had 2 young kids at the time and between work and a hectic home life, the husband reached the point where he just needed a day to himself, to enjoy one of life’s greatest comforts – sleep.
I think about that story a lot because honestly, sleep has been a luxury for a while now and moments to have a great night’s sleep are few and far between. I once did an interview where I said that I would choose restful sleep over an expensive piece of jewelry and I stand by that. Those that know me know how much I love nice jewelry, so that is saying a lot.
I remember seeing a friend of ours with 4 kids before I had children and just aghast about the permanent black patches under her eyes and thinking how does that happen? Now with my own permanent black patches – I understand. There is too much to do, not enough time for you and when you should be sleeping, for some reason, your mind turns on and sleep become elusive. I have lost the ability to truly disconnect and shut down.
For a long time, I had baby monitors in our bedroom to monitor the kids throughout the night. My son was 3 and I still had his going, because his bedroom was on the other side of the floor from us. When I went for my physical that year, I indicated that I was not getting enough restful sleep. My son is not a restful sleeper and so I would be woken throughout the night with his shuffling and re-adjustments. My doctor finally said to me that if he was sick or needed something, he was old enough that he could make his way to our room. She was right and it was something that I knew intellectually but needed her to give me permission to act on it. I got rid of the baby monitor and for a period of time, I was sleeping well (the body was catching up).
But within the last couple of years, I am that person who is awake, without need, at 4am every morning. I am not rested, and need more sleep, but my mind turns on and once it is on, that’s it. And once the day starts, there are no breaks. The mornings are a combination of preparing for the day, getting the kids ready, and then the day is a blur of work, and with lunch time – a combination of business development, mentorship and running errands. The evenings are activities for the kids, working out, getting things organized for the next day, and the cycle starts again.
Sometimes I think about amazing naps I have had in the past ….yes – that’s how much I love and miss sleeping. When I was in residence in undergrad, I had this huge window in my room and even in the winter, the sun would shine in and warm me to every fibre of my being. Napping with the sun warming me was blissful. Typically on the week-end, residence was less busy and so the noise was muted, and there were few interruptions. Those were good naps…..
But there are cycles for everything – aren’t there? I know that right now, with young kids, sleep is something that I am having to sacrifice. But as they get older, hopefully, I will be able to find time for sleep.
I recently had dinner with my group of girlfriends I have met through our career in law. My one friend indicated that her in-laws decided to take the kids for the week-end and she was left, the afternoon before our dinner, with the house to herself. Instead of working or catching up on things at the house, she slept. She slept for 3 hours and she said that it was magical. Those without kids are probably reading this post thinking – magical – really? But seriously, when she described her nap and the ability to nap guilt and interruption free, the rest of us, just looked at her enviously and in awe……With everything going on in our lives, all of our accomplishments, listening to a description about a nap was like listening to someone win the lottery.
Looking forward to reacquainting myself again with you nap, sweet nap!
But that’s just one Diva’s view.