20 December 2013

Walking Dead (Or, How Parenting Is Like the Movie Inception)

Dear Sir,

I did not order this 4:50 wake-up call and I would like to complain to the manager.
Yes, I know I am technically the manager, but I ceded authority and control to you when you were born.
Please try to keep it down, little man.
Shut your yap.

Thank you,
Dada (formerly the manager)

I’m pretty sure we can all agree—parents and non-parents alike—that 5 a.m. is a completely unreasonable time to get up. I am not a farmer. I have nothing to milk. And this is doubly—perhaps triply—true if it happens to be a weekend morning.

It’s been said, or written, or so I have heard, that when you become a parent, you just get used to sleeping less, that you grow accustomed to being tired. Really? Who are these people that think this? You don’t get used to it. You think you do. You have one kid and they start sleeping through the night and so you start sleeping through the night and you’re good. But then you have another kid (a really stupid idea) and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again. You’re not sleeping anymore. Then you’re being woken up super-early.

And it’s not just tired, like, oh I just mowed the grass and I’m going to sit down with my feet up and drink a beer for a minute. Not that kind of tired. More like I’ve been on a drug-fueled, Thompson-esque tear through Las Vegas and I’ve been awake for three days straight, holy shit, is this really what my hands look like kind of tired.

So I have no idea how you grow accustomed to it. It is disorienting and discombobulating. Still. This is why parenthood is a lot like Inception. It’s really hard to tell if you’re dreaming or awake. You’re in a perpetual state of semi-zombieness which leaves you confused about your reality. The only difference is that you’re changing diapers and spoon-feeding a baby instead of mounting an assault on a mountainous compound or fighting thugs in zero gravity.

Okay, I guess it’s kind of the same thing.

My bed is so tempting now. Like it’s never been before. And yet, the hours between 8 and 11 p.m. become so valuable, because they are the only opportunity to do anything remotely productive, to feed your own brain, to detach from the world and you just want that time to go on forever, but you also want to go to sleep right now this minute. But I can’t bring myself to go to bed earlier. What am I, my grandpa? I like the nightlife. I like to boogie.

I used to have me time. I used to have nothing but me time. But now it’s all kid time, all the time. Even after they go to bed at night. You’re not dealing with them, but now you’re talking about them. At length. And at this time of year, you’re wrapping their presents and building their precious superhero dollhouses for them—something that doesn’t exist in reality, so you have to improvise and invent the thing as you go along (yeah, that’s an entire post unto itself).

Yawn. No, really. Yawn.

Seriously, as I write this, I’m not sure how my eyelids are staying open. When I’m done, I’ve got to work on presents, talk to my wife, plan every day until Christmas to make sure we have enough time to get everything done. And it’s all the fault of the two sleep-averse maniacs upstairs.

Long ago, we decided that when they are teenagers, we are totally going into their rooms and shouting and making noise and waking them up at 3 a.m. This is only fair.

Don’t judge us.

Who am I kidding, we’ll be grateful for the sleep. There’s no way we’re dragging our asses out of bed at 3 a.m. Ever. For the rest of our lives.

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