Dear hubby, you are the love of my life, a good man and a wonderful dad, but I’m sorry to tell you there have been times when I’ve wanted to punch you right in the face.
You see, I think I suffer from sleep resentment.
I’m writing you this letter because I feel it’s time I spoke to you about it. I no longer want the sleep elephant in the room to erode us. We are better than this!
It started out as sleep envy
I think I first started hating on you (and yes, hate is a terrible, strong word, but in the moment, I’ll confess this is how I feel), while in hospital after our first son was born.
It was about the third morning of his life when you waltzed into the room full of beans and coffee, so excited to see our little marvel. I was also happy to see you but I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy over your full night of uninterrupted sleep.
You looked so wonderfully refreshed, buzzing with joy over our baby, whereas I had the third day baby blues and was beginning to feel the onslaught of sleep deprivation.
Then it grew
Over the weeks, this sleep envy became something more. I know this time of our baby being nocturnal was taxing on you too, especially as you had to get up and go to work the next day, but I’m sorry to say love, it was worse for me. I was the moo cow.
I started to resent you
When you snored while our son drank from my boob at 4am after a night of cluster feeding, I sometimes despised you. At times I may have even nudged you awake, only to have you mutter something about “feeding time again?” and then roll back into a deep annoying slumber.
These feelings were so irrational of me, I know. At first you were even getting up with me for the feeds, but we soon realised how pointless this was. It wasn’t your fault that I had our baby’s feeding equipment and that you needed to sleep in order to function at work and bring home the bacon. Still, chronic sleep deprivation will make you lose your mind. And in those moments, I had completely lost mine.
While our baby, and consequently us, started sleeping longer as he grew, I think the sleep resentment did as well. Sure, I wasn’t up feeding all night but I was so damn tired from being our baby’s primary carer.
We were both exhausted, I know, but the tiredness you felt was a different kind of fatigue. Bad, but different.
Then it became a sort of sick competition
“I’m coping, I don’t need sleep,” we’d snap at each other when it was suggested the other one have a nap. Why? Because we didn’t want the other person to resent the other for sleeping. We had created a monster in our relationship.
We’ve both been crabby on and off for years and should have addressed this sleep resentment monster ages ago. But we didn’t. And so when our first son became an ‘early riser’ right around the time our second son entered our lives (and exploded our hearts all over again!), the sleep deprivation clock was reset. Yawn.
Now the feeling is mutual
Now that our eldest is four and youngest is two, I know the newborn tables have turned. I haven’t kept tabs, but at a guess I think you might get less sleep than I do these days. While I’m usually the one our four-year-old likes to bed hop (and squirm) next to at night, you’re often the one who responds to the night calls and heats up milk at 5am when a little someone decides it’s time to start the day.
You are the one getting cold more often these days, while I lay snug in bed catching up on an extra hour or two of sleep. You are also the one who has a casual second job and sometimes has to work late.
So, I have to ask, do you resent me?
Maybe you should a little, but you should also know …
The truth is, while I’m lying there in the wee hours listening to you search the washing up for a sippy cup, I’m feeling guilty – guilty because I’m choosing not to be a mum 24/7 but also because I sense you’re irritated at me for lying in. But I also feel it’s my turn. I did the hard yards early on.
So what to do?
How about rather than feel ill towards me, or me at you when you doze off on the couch, let’s just have a little chat about it. Maybe if we simply told each other how we’re feeling about the sleep thing, we might just shake the irritable vibe between us.
Who knows, if we do that we might even also devise a go-forward plan to help us both manage things better. Sleep resentment, you insidious monster, get away from us!