Confessions of a COVID-19 Mom & Wife

Each night I fall asleep from pure exhaustion somewhere around 11 pm. Despite my reasonable bedtime, I’m usually wide awake about 3:30. a.m.. In fact, it’s happened three times this week. It’s like my mind waits until everyone including the dog is fast asleep before I wake. It’s honestly the only time I get to transparently worry. I usually wrap the sleep interruption in tasks to make it more palatable for what I know has underlying issues. I’ll tell myself something like “Make sure you started the dishwasher” or “Did you remember to Lysol the door knobs and faucets?” But the reality is it’s an opportunity for me to sit quiet and process all of this. See I’m fully aware that I control the temperature of my home. If I freak out, my children ages 11 and 8 will freak out. If I freak out, I stress my husband out. If I freak out, the entire house will freak out. So I simply have to hold it together.

My astrological sign is Taurus and Lord knows we need consistency. It really is a need, but this is week four of quarantine as a result of COVID-19. Week four of new routines. Week four of uncertainty. Week four of inconsistencies at work and at home. Week four of not being able to control a doggone thing and it’s wearing on me. So I’ve tried to create consistency in the midst of this chaos.

I wake up, take a 2 mile walk/run by myself. I come home, make breakfast and get the children in place for online classes. I’m not the best at technology, so I can keep the schedule but my husband’s job is all things tech. He handles questions about internet, link issues, assignment submissions etc… I just can’t. Somewhere between there I have individual work tasks, a to-do-list a mile a long and Zooms of my own. Lunch is on you own around here. There’s plenty to eat, but every man or woman for themselves. Then it’s dinner time.

Each of us is dealing with this pandemic in our own way. It’s a collective situation with individualized levels of coping. There really isn’t a rule book for dealing with this. I just know I have to take care of myself and my family. So, for now, I will try to use my sleep interruptions as an opportunity for spiritual growth and productivity. For now, I will lie back down and wait for the sun to rise or for sleep to catch me. For now, I will ignore the building anxiety at the thought of yet another inconsistent day.


Where’s the Sandman?


On any given morning around 4 a.m. my eyes open and I know that my long lost friend sleep has abandoned me yet again. I used to lie dormant, praying to go back to sleep, tossing and turning trying to figure out how I was going to function the next day. Some time last year, I embraced these early morning wakeups as a time of peace and stillness. I don’t set my alarm clock but when I wake, I get up. I trek downstairs in the dark, make myself a big cup of hot tea and find something to work on for the next three hours. Since I now get up, I’ve put the anxiety of not sleeping to bed. It just doesn’t bother me. So I fall asleep just fine, just haven’t mastered staying sleep.

My husband is my polar opposite in the sleep department. He has trouble falling asleep. He’s a night owl and usually doesn’t shut his eyes until about 2 a.m. Unbeknown to us and unintentionally, we usually, silently pass each other in the night.

It’s one thing for the of us to walk around sleep deprived, but a few months ago sleep also left my baby girl’s bed. She has never been great at soothing herself to sleep and recently has struggled to stay sleep for more than four hours at a time. So we did what any loving parents would do. We panicked. I made a diary of everything she ate, in hopes of finding the culprit. We continued our nightly routine and incorporated toddler Tai Chi after bath before prayer. We scented her room with lavender oil. We dimmed the lights. We tried melatonin. We even tried letting her sleep with the dog although his snores quickly proved to be too much. I was really starting to stress over it. I was reading everything I could on how to help a toddler sleep. I made an appointment with her pediatrician. We even had a parent teacher conference with her teacher to report her sleep issues and check up on her school “attitude.”

But one early morning last week something happened. I got out of bed about 3:58 a.m and by 4:36 a.m. I had already cleaned the kitchen and was about to start writing and I heard a soft voice say “mommy” I replied with a quiet yes and she made her way down the steps in the dark. When she came in the kitchen I am sure she expected me say what I also say “go back to bed, your body needs to rest, lay there quietly and think happy thoughts until you fall back to sleep.”

Instead, I asked her what was wrong. “Mommy I can’t sleep. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t sleep” she said. So I gave her a hug and I told her I understand and that sometimes that happens to me too and I offered her some tea. She smiled and accepted.

As we sat on the couch cuddled up with a warm cup of chamomile, we didn’t talk much, the lights were out and we watched the sunrise through the blinds. I empathized with her struggle and thought about my own. And that’s when she said it. “Momma, this is the best time of my life. I will remember this forever. Just you and me watching the sun come up with a cup of tea.”

I couldn’t help but smile and hug her even tighter. And while my quest to help her get the rest I know she so desperately needs won’t stop I recognize that at 5 years old she cherishes moments with me, even the sleepy ones and for now….that’s enough.




Forever, Ever?


In an effort to lovingly kick our tenacious three-year-old toddler out of our bed, we agreed to let her sleep in her 1-year-old brother’s room. Now, I have to give you a little background.

My daughter has NEVER liked to sleep by herself. She will take mommy, daddy, or the dog; anything she can feel breathing as a partner. She will boss you around as she tries to find her perfect comfy spot for the night. She tells you which way to lay, what arm to prop up her head, no pillows, no covers, and the list goes on and on. When she finally drifts off to sleep and we tiptoe out of her room, we are guaranteed about four solid hours before we hear her two little feet finding their way to our bed. If we lock the door, she will knock and patiently camp out in front of her our room until sunrise. I have even caught her sleeping in the dog bed in the hallway hoping we open the door.

Now Baby G is her polar opposite. He doesn’t want anyone to cuddle with him. He likes his own space and his own room. He is very regimented and sleeps through the night. So, our first thought when she asked to sleep in his room was no. We feared messing up his routine. But she begged. “Mommy, please let me sleep in BaBa’s room. I won’t wake him up. I promise. Just let me try it.” So the compromise was, she had to bring in her toddler mattress and sleep beside his crib. She also absolutely, positively cannot wake him up if she has to go potty in the middle of the night. If he wakes up, the deal is off and she goes back to her room by herself.

I am knocking on a wooden Elmo table so hard right now, because after seven nights in a row, bedtime routine is easier and our bedroom is shy a toddler. So it came as no surprise when during bath time a few nights ago Morgan announced “I have decided I am moving into BaBa’s room.” I laugh and ask her what she is talking about. “I am sleeping there forever,” she says.

“Well Morgan, I think its great that you love sleeping in your brother’s room but you can’t just move in with people without asking them. You have to talk to brother about this first. She turns and looks at him and asks, “Baby G, can I move into your room, FOREVER?” And he looks her dead in her eyes and leans his head all the way to the right until it touches his shoulders and mumbles inaudibly. My training in nonverbal communication tells me, he is not 100% on board with this request, but his smile says he will think about it.

We are quickly approaching two weeks of this arrangement and despite trying to figure out how to make this out of place toddler mattress in the middle of the floor not look so out of place, it seems to work. After baths, snacks and prayer we give Baby G a cup of milk and Morgan lies on her mattress tucks herself in, rolls over and is out like a light within five minutes. We put him in his crib say goodnight and love you and walk out until about 7 a.m. the next morning.

Tonight, after she rolls over she says, “Mommy BaBa really loves me and is so happy I am in his room.” And I ask how she knows, “Because at night when we are sleeping he looks at me and smiles,” she says. “He even smiles in his sleep.” For all I know, she could be right. One thing is for certain; I’m smiling too, especially in my sleep.