What The Others Have Taught Me

***Updated with a Lucky Winner Below!!!***

A guest post by Rita Arens: author of Surrender Dorothy and editor/author of Sleep is For the Weak

You may have heard about this little book project I started back in 2006 with a few e-mails to women whose writing I admired. It ended up snowballing and snowballing, and at some point I started to daydream it could actually happen -- I could actually put together a book that would help other parents the way the blogosphere had helped me.

What may not be as obvious is the way the project came about. It came about as I lay on the floor of my 18-month-old daughter's room, holding her hand through the crib slats and willing her to go to sleep. I moved her to a toddler bed for my comfort, not hers, as my arm kept going out of socket in that uncomfortable position. I had a permanent dent in my chest from leaning over that crib rail with my hand on her tummy. I didn't know why she wouldn't stay asleep. I'd tried everything. I was so frustrated. I needed a fantasy. I needed something to take my mind off how very frustrated I was with the whole parenting thing. And my job -- my job was NOT going well. I was taking a self-esteem beating on a daily basis at that job (I don't work there anymore). I didn't want to work AT ALL, but I had to, because we needed the money to pay the mortgage. It was probably the worst working experience I've ever had, and that's saying a lot, as I've had probably eight full-time jobs so far in my career. Sleep Is for the Weak grew out of the lowest point in my life. NOTHING was going right. I think I conjured it up just to have a daydream, just to believe in myself again. Maybe I was the world's worst mother who couldn't even get her toddler to sleep or the world's worst employee who didn't understand web services or foreign keys in databases, but I was still a writer with a lot of perseverence and a fair grasp of how to use Excel to track projects. I needed a win. I think if I hadn't needed it so bad, I never would've stuck with it.

I also needed you guys. I needed the blogosphere. I needed to read about other people whose kids wouldn't sleep or whose jobs sucked or who weren't having any sex or whatever. Misery loves company, and my lands, was I miserable.

My college friends were still partying a bit. They've calmed down now, and I've since grown closer with those acquaintances or budding friends who had children. I learned to find the people I needed, but I also needed the bloggers before I got to that point. My maternity leave stretched out like an empty calendar as my friends and family had to go to work and mind their own children and attend to their own lives while I stared at the screaming ball of baby in the boppy seat for eight hours in a row.

I wish I would've known Bec then. When I read Rockabye, even though our lives are very different (when she had Archer I was still flying all over the country promoting potassium-based water softening crystals and learning to walk in heels), I so identified with Bec. This passage from Rockabye pretty much sums up why I did Sleep Is for the Weak:

I'm glad I'm here. I miss my old friends and stealing drinks from rich schmucks desperate for attention. I miss short skirts and sweat-stained bras from dancing. But I am not really that person anymore. I have a new skin ... stetch-marked and scratched, thanks to Archer's unclipped nails. The problem is, I haven't really figured out how to have fun in my new world. I am desperate for a social life that doesn't require flying out of town for the weekend. Dance clubs I can get into. Mom's clubs? I don't even know where to stand in line.

Even though Bec is I think eight years younger than I am (EGADS), I maybe had delayed adolescence or something. I was very much still into the party scene at 29 when I got pregnant. I had a really big culture shock. I wasn't ready to embrace denying my entire personality to be...Mommy. I didn't even like the way that term sounded. I know -- it's horrible. But it didn't fit with my self-image. Now it does -- I've grown into it after four years on the job. But in that transition period -- God, you just need to know you'll find yourself again on the other side, that you don't have to be a Puritan to have children, that there is a way to have adult fun and be a responsible parent at the same time. It's just different, and the difference can be overwhelming in those first few hazy months of motherhood.

Keep blogging, world. You have no idea how much your words are needed. There are still those coming after us who will need us the way I needed all of you.

Rita Arens
www.surrenderdorothyblog.com

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Ed: If you haven't already purchased Sleep is For the Weak I recommend that you do so, here right this second. 1. Because it's an incredible collection of essays written by your (and my) favorite bloggers. 2. It's damn good, which is to be expected when you have an allstar cast of writers on the team. 3. Supporting your fellow mama-bloggers is majorly cool, especially when they are as balls-to-the-wall inspiring as Rita Arens, and if you aren't familiar with her blog, Surrender Dorothy, I highly recommend you add it to your google reader right after you purchase the book

Also! We're doing a Sleep is for the Weak giveaway here at GGC, so to win? All you have to do is answer the following question: How many hours do you sleep at night? One lucky reader will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of the book. Good luck!

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**Congratulations to Not So Domestic Goddess for winning the signed copy of Sleep is For the Weak! Please email me so we can get your book out to you asap! And thank you to all of you for participating!

76 comments:

Anonymous | 8:33 AM

I usually sleep four and a half to five hours a night. I catch the bus to my shitty job. The ride itself is an hour and a half one way. I get to work an hour early and i have to wait 20 minutes after work for the bus home. I am saving atleast $400 a month by doing so, but I hardly know if it's worth being away from my 3 year old for 13 Hours a day (5:55am-7:00pm). Thank god for my Super dad of a husband.

mommymae | 8:34 AM

roughly 7 - 8 hours, but only because i co-sleep. if miss james was in her own bed, i'd sleep a lot less. not bad for having a 6 week old.

Rita Arens | 8:49 AM

Kisses on YOUR cheeks! :)

Naomi | 8:55 AM

4-5 hours . . . give or take . . .

Christine | 9:06 AM

On a good night, maybe if I'm lucky, 6-7 hours of broken up sleep. On the bad nights, probably five hours of horribly interrupted rest.

mrs.notouching | 9:22 AM

I'm pregnant with my first so if I could I would sleep for days, but for some reason my boss would rather have me drooling on my keyboard all day then let me go early on maternity. I know you will hate me but for now I can still enjoy about 7 to 8 hours of sleep - soon to be gone luxury, I'm sure...

iMommy | 9:31 AM

Great guest post! I'll have to pick that book up, looks like something I can read while trying to teach my newborn to sleep :-)

I usually sleep around 6 hours each night. Last night, I slept from 830pm to 600am, and it was blissful!

tricia | 10:07 AM

i am proof it does get better. my daughter is 6 and a 1st grader and my twin boy are 4. we sleep trained from a very early age. if everyone is well i get about 7-8 hours a night. the perfect amount for me.

Amelia Sprout | 10:34 AM

I lie and tell people my daughter sleeps through the night, but she still usually gets up once a night, three to five times a week (worse when teething) and gets in bed with me. I sleep between 7 and 5 hours usually. Eventually it catches up with me and I fall asleep at 7, right after she does. She falls asleep great, it is staying asleep that is hard.

A | 10:38 AM

I sleep around 8 hours a night, as consistently as I can. I don't have kids yet, but I do have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (I was diagnosed at age 11) and tend to manage it without problems as long as I get enough sleep. I'm sure once I have kids, that will be totally out the window, though!!

Stacy | 10:44 AM

Around 6 hours a night, but I can't blame it on my toddler. He's a wonderful sleeper, but I'm an insomniac with a blog addiction.

Skipsy | 10:50 AM

How many hours do you sleep at night?

Enough to be grateful; fewer than I want.

Nutmeg | 10:54 AM

Last night, I went to bed at 11:30 and woke up this morning at 6:00 when my 21 month old son hit me in the eye with the heel of a pair of nice slingbacks.

Of course he woke up an unexaggerated 15 times in that 7:30 hour period.

Robin | 11:01 AM

During the week I sleep around 5 hours on a very good night. I have to be at work at 4AM and I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 4 month old. Sleep IS for the weak. Coffee is my savior.

Brooke | 11:19 AM

How many hours do you sleep at night?

On average, 6 hours. And my 18 month old sleeps about 12 hours! I just feel I have so much to do while she's asleep and doesn't require my full attention - laundry, email, catching up on blogs, dishes, oh yeah, and finding a new job after a recent lay-off!

carrie | 11:19 AM

Middle school started at the beginning of the month.

I now sleep 3-4 hours at night, and take a 1/2 hour nap. To say that it sucks is putting it mildly.

Beware the middle school schedules people. Beware.

Serena | 11:25 AM

6 hours

Ellie's parents | 11:32 AM

7 hours- sun thru sat up at 500am by baby or dogs

The Mommy | 11:54 AM

I average about 6, interrupted by at least episode of the girl needing her pacifier reinserted.

Sophie VW | 12:39 PM

I get maybe 3 hrs at a time between feedings for a total of 6.....on a good night. My sleep is always interupted, but Im blissfully breastfeeding my 6 week old!

nancy | 12:54 PM

Skipsy said it best. Seriously. But I'll throw my hat in anyway...

Sometimes, I sleep 3-4 hours, if I stay up late to work or just chill out. Usually, my son's night wakings will coincide with a decision to watch the end of some movie or other, and I regret it. Most of the time, though, he does sleep through the night and I can get more like 6 or 7. Sometimes I will march myself to bed super-early and get as many as 9. Sometimes, my husband marches after me, and then I'm back to more like 3 or 4, but at least I wake up happy.

Lots of things tug that number up or down--my son's needs, my husband's needs, my own need to not be needed by anyone, my own need to just be taken care of. The one thing I can say is that I'm much happier for no longer expecting it to be consistent, for embracing the idea that it ebbs and flows. I always get around to taking care of myself, eventually.

Susan W | 1:37 PM

Oooo, hopefully no one hates me, but I get 8 hours a night. Of course, to do so, I go to bed at 9! HOwever, for my sanity, (and that of our family) it is worth it.

Kirsten | 1:41 PM

I get about 7 - I have to so I function at work...

beyond | 2:02 PM

i don t have children yet and sleep 6-8 hours a night. i do not know how people can function on less than 6 hours on a regular basis. i guess i will find out when i have a baby...

Windy | 2:06 PM

I sleep about 7 hours with two interruptions. My 2 year old still wakes up every night at 11 and 4:30. HELP!!!!!!

courtney | 2:49 PM

I actually get a really decent amount total - about 8-10 hours - but it is all broken up into 2 or 3 hour chunks. I got really spoiled when my 4 week old slept 7 hours in a row for 3 nights in a row... but that was as long as that lasted and we're back to little sleep stints again!

carma | 2:59 PM

7 hours - but I gotta admit every now and then I hop back into bed after the bus takes my son off to school so I can get in an extra hour of "beauty" sleep :)

Rae | 3:38 PM

I'd guess I get maybe 5 hours total. I have a 15 month old who gets up around 7am and sleeps through the night, finally (after roughly 10 months of getting up every 2-3 hours). But alas, I am 28 weeks pregnant and in that no sleep stage of pregnancy. Cruel joke for pregnant woman. No sleep now and you KNOW in 3 months I'm going to get even less!

Lets just hope this new baby has better sleep habits than my son did.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 3:44 PM

I'm going to join the party and admit that I sleep about 8 hours a night. Yup. Midnight(ish)-8:00am. Hal gets up with Archer and I sleep until my alarm goes off at 8 and then dress, make Archer's lunch and take Arch to school at 8:30... I have a feeling that my 8 hours are... uh... limited.

mary catherine | 3:54 PM

Dear God (and GGC-world), I have no idea. It's off and on and different every time. I'll say that I'm in bed for 8 hours and asleep for half of that, and in a breastmilkshakin' all-night-diner haze the other half. It feels like 5-6.

William Joseph | 4:00 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathryn | 4:03 PM

I probably get 5-6 hours sleep - my 6 month old still breastfeeds every 4 hours.

Every night I pray that he will sleep through.

No such luck yet.

caleal | 4:10 PM

Uh... 3 to 4 on the week nights, 10-12 on the weekends.

I kind of crash on the weekends and am dead to the world for a little while. Because of all the not sleeping during the week. Yeah. Unfortunate.

Patty H. | 4:34 PM

~6.
My cat has this habit of peeing on my comforter as soon as I lay down. That's comparable to being a mom, right???

Shonda Little | 4:42 PM

I think "Sleep is for the Week" would've been a good title, too, because that's about how often I slept when my kids were new.

April | 4:52 PM

I sleep about 5-6 hours. My kids actually go down pretty early, around 7, but I can't get myself to sleep before 11 and then they're up by 5 :-/

Julie | 5:02 PM

Geez...sometimes it's as little as 5 broken up through the night or as much as 8 (still broken up through the night). I am constantly exhausted. I am waiting for it to get better like everyone says...10 months and still waiting! : )

Jenny | 6:07 PM

I sleep about 6-7 usually. I'm pretty much worthless on anything less...yeah, not good for my future as a parent...

Keri | 6:17 PM

With the heartburn, trips to the bathroom to pee, the need to flip to my other side every hour or so, the occasional insomnia, my son coming into our bedroom to sleep on the floor next to us (waking me first to let me know he's in the room), and the leg cramps (god, these are the WORST), I would say I average 3-4 hours of decent sleep. =P

hoppytoddle | 6:26 PM

I have become accostomed to 5-6 hours, even though my daughter is over 3, now. Yes, I am also now a sahm, but if I don't stay up until all hours, I get no time to myself.

I have to say that I have just recently stumbled upon this whole blog world this year through Cafemama in PDX, as I was searching for moms that have had vbacs. Oh, how I wish I had known that this world existed when I was camping out on the floor of our daughter's room, trying to get her to sleep in her own room. I just recently started my own blog & ironically wrote a post about my first year trying to balance work & motherhood because Palin reminds me of the boss I had then.

Just thanks, all you other mamas, for creating this blog world where we can all go & find we are not the only ones to be struggling with (fill in the blank).

Baby in Broad | 6:44 PM

I get about 6 hours of sleep a night, which is enough to function (though not always well). And I have oodles of help with Westley in the evening. I can't imagine what I'd do if I had to go it alone. I'd probably never sleep, and be dead.

Tink | 7:15 PM

usually 5 to 6 hours. my son is 2 and after sleeping in his own bed for practically his whole life he has decided that he needs to sleep with mom. he starts out in his own bed but without fail ends up in mine around 230 AM every morning.

Kelsey | 7:16 PM

Between five and six hours, because I can't seem to wind down earlier at night and the baby doesn't want to sleep past 5 a.m. these days. That is not enough for me, but I'm getting by, for now.

Jenny | 9:10 PM

Three stepkids and a full time job means 5-6 hours sleep per night max. I could really use more like 7-8...but couldn't we all? :)

Mandy | 9:10 PM

Pre-kids, I liked about 8-9 hours a night. Now I am lucky to get 7, probably 6 is a more accurate number.

Mekhismom | 10:59 PM

I enjoyed reading your post and will purchase Sleep is for the weak. As I type it is 1:58am. I will probably get 5 hours of sleep. If I don't read the book that I have been meaning to finish for a week now.

5 hours. Sleep really is for the weak! Thanks for the encouragement to keep blogging.

Lynette | 11:08 PM

Although my baby is a teenager - I find myself getting less sleep as I try and outstay him as to get some quiet time. I average 5 1/2 to 6 hours of sleep per night.

As I read the other comments I remember being a new mother with a first child who refused to sleep more than an hour at a time. I remember how happy I was when, finally, all three of my children were at a stage where they could get up on a saturday morning and pour their own breakfast cereal AND milk without creating chaos - thus giving me an extra hour of much needed sleep-in time.

I can't wait to read Sleep is for the Weak - no matter how many years go by - it's always nice to know you aren't alone in your fears, past or present.

karen p | 11:16 PM

What a perfect post for me to read. It's only 11 p.m. but I just spent the last 3 hours trying to get my 19 mo. old to sleep. Every time I think we're finally there - every time I get a few nights sleep in a row - a month of no crying when it's pajama time - she zigs when I zag and I find myself back to holding my breath and trying to put her down in her crib in some twisted up fashion that will give her the impression that I'm still holding her. Last week I slept through the night. Last night I slept in bits and pieces - sharing my bed with three cats a dog and squirming tired babe. It's always so good to know we're not alone.

kittenpie | 12:50 AM

You don't want to know this, really, do you? Last ngiht, about 6.5 hours total, in 1-2 hour chunks. The night before, 4 hours. Sorry...

Mandy | 1:28 AM

It's ridiculous that I'm only just now fully admitting this:
I'm a SAHM, my daughter sleeps 8-8, and I sleep from 3:30am-8am. 4.5 hours!

The Husband gets up at 3:35am, so I stealthily turn off the computer monitor right before his alarm goes off...so he's none the wiser :)

Motherhood has taught me the ability to fall asleep in 2.2 seconds whenever an opportunity strikes - 5 minute 'naps' are underestimated.

i-stalk-badgers | 3:11 AM

I average 5 hours a night ifyou add together the chunks, which I realise is wonderful in comparison to a lot of people. However, of late, Sprog lures me into a false sense of security by sleeping through...and then the next night will be up all hours.

Sabrina K. | 4:01 AM

5 or 6 hours, but not always unbroken. My daughter has nightmares about 2 times a week due to stress from starting a new school, and they usually occur at about the time I want to fall asleep, and last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour before I can get her back to sleep. And I need to be up by 6:30am if I want her to get on the bus on time. I'm a SAHM but I'm too afraid to nap when my little dude does for fear of further messing up my tenuous sleep/wake schedule. Even on the weekends it seems I can't get more than 6 hours. Blah, I am aways tired, thank goodness for concealer!
alter_ego_jenny(at)yahoo(dot)com

Not-so Domestic Goddess | 7:02 AM

Anywhere from 4-6 hours. If I'm lucky, I might get 8 hours in on a weekend. My husband works second shift and gets home after midnight. I get up with the kids around 6. My 4 yr old wakes up a lot during the night. And I have insomnia. So often times when I should be sleeping, I just can't. It sucks.

Tami in NY | 7:20 AM

I'm in it right now. That miserable that you talk about is me at the moment. I have to work but miss my baby so very much. Seeing her for maybe two hours a day during the work week just sucks!

I get between 5 and 6 hours of sleep. By Fridays I'm whooped!

BOSSY | 7:27 AM

Bossy sleeps five or six hours a night. But she longs, and dreams, of eight.

pamela | 7:57 AM

usually about 6... zoe sleeps well, i just have a hard time going to sleep when SHE falls asleep! it's my secret time to do all the things i wish i had time to do during the day....read vogue, browse the internet, read an actual grown-up book, pluck my eyebrows, etc.

Rhea | 8:31 AM

Hey, I know you! You're Blondie's sister! HI!!!

WE mothers need other mothers during motherhood. Those connections, hearing about others, READING about others, is priceless.

Trenches of Mommyhood | 8:47 AM

Would love to get my hands on a signed copy of that tome. I get about 6.5 hours of sleep on weeknights - if I'm lucky.

Sara | 9:23 AM

I'm getting about 8 hours a night...my nine week old decided to start sleeping 12 hours at night this week. I know I don't deserve the book but I do want it!

Shutter Bitch | 9:30 AM

I get between 6-8 hours, depending on how well the book on my nightstand captures my attention. Last night, I had to remind myself to go to sleep at 11 for my 5:30 am wake up call. And that's if my baby girl decides to let me sleep through the night.

Then, all bets are off.

Jamie | 9:56 AM

4.5-5 hours. But I am a SAHM, so I ALWAYS work in a nap!

Ashley | 10:22 AM

Well, it's early (which is so NOT like me) ... but I get 8 hours. She is 2 right now. In bed by 10 and up at 6.

Not looking forward to sleepless haze with #2...

Kendra | 10:25 AM

I usually go to bed at 10PM and am up at 5:30AM....which is 7 1/2 hours. BUT, between answering cries from bad dreams and recovering boys AFTER they have kicked off their sheets and peeing....I only get about 6 total.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:51 AM

Holy cow, you guys! I'm feeling really guilty about my 8 hours, although, for the last six weeks, interrupted by peeing, heartburn and thirst, it's probably been closer to 5 and I guess pretty soon... closer to 0. I think its so funny that all of us COULD get more sleep if we really wanted to -- trouble is? We have way too much shit we want to accomplish and sleep is sort of a last priority when you're a parent. It's pretty amazing what a mother is capable of. You're all heroes.

Rita Arens | 10:51 AM

Ya'll are scaring me. The little angel sleeps better now than she did before, and I go to bed around 11 and usually make it until 7. Which I think equals EIGHT HOURS. You may now shoot me, and I will so totally understand.

But if it helps someone to hear that can happen to even the worst sleeper by four-and-a-half, then I'm going to set myself up to be shot.


And yes, Rhea, I am Blondie's big sis. :)

Eva | 11:49 AM

not enough! only 6 hours of sleep for me.

AudreyC | 11:50 AM

Consecutive hours? Five, if I'm lucky.

julie @ the calm before the stork | 1:41 PM

Is it too late to chime in? I get about 5 hours, even though the baby gets about 10. I just can't fall asleep before 11 or so.

Would love a copy of the book!

Binky | 2:56 PM

7-9 hours. I put a high priority on that stuff. I consider it uninterrupted since I generally feed the baby in my sleep. Well, that's how it works with my littlest one. Every other night I have to get at least semi-conscious to change the wet sheets of my older one's bed.

Suzanne | 4:29 PM

Oh my gosh. I would kill to get 8 hours a night (or 9 or 10), but that seems to be a thing of the past. I have to be up at 3:45 a.m. as my job across town starts at 5:30 a.m. Thank goodness it is only 4 days/week instead of 5 (10 hour days, though). OH! The answer? I get about 6.5 hours a night, if I'm lucky.

Amy | 5:05 PM

Hmm...now that I stop and think about it, I'm getting about 5-6 hours of sleep most nights. Nights are the only "me" time when I can catch up on blogs, edit my photos for my business and watch any Tivo'd shows I'm interested in. By the time I check the clock, it's usually past midnight and I'm cursing myself for not getting into bed earlier!

MamaFeelgood | 7:03 PM

7 hours give or take.

Sara | 9:03 PM

4 -6 hours of sleep. sometimes interrupted , sometimes in one chunk. i wake up with rls and it's over rover.

Anonymous | 5:20 AM

My kids are old enough to sleep through, and they do... but I work, go to school full-time and we are moving so right now I get about 4-5. Coffee and Diet Dr. Pepper get me through the day.

Heather L.

Heather | 6:28 AM

I have co-slept with my 15 month old since he was born and I think I sleep less now than I did when he was a little baby. He tosses and turns and talks in his sleep. He kicks me in the head, he tries to climb over me, he head butts me - all in his sleep. I've tried to get him into the crib but he likens the crib to some kind of torture, I am in the process of deciding on a bed for him. It's looking like it will be his very own twin bed on the floor to start with.

That said I think my two hour afternoon nap is the longest stretch of sleep I get. But I love my little guy.

kristinarena | 10:33 AM

eight or nine. usually.

i think i'm just trying to stock up, though, for i know that when this baby, this first child of mine, gets here in another month and a half - two months... sleep will be nothing but a fond memory.