[Wait. Did you say lifelong mission? Really? Lifelong? Shouldn't it be just "five-year?" By the time your kids are five years old they should be sleeping through the night, so the parents should be able to sleep just fine, right? Are you trying to tell me that your children can effect your ability to sleep for the rest of your entire life?!? That's something they certainly did not put in the brochures! I didn't know I was signing up for that!]
Sleep is something we definitely take for granted as single people. Before you become a parent, your thoughts on sleep are basically, "Sleep? Yeah, I'll catch some of that whenever. It's no big deal. There'll always be time for sleep later." Hah! If only you knew! When you are a parent, that far-flung future known as "later" doesn't actually exist, and it probably never will.
|Sleep? Why would I sleep when I could be climbing on the couch and knocking the mirror off of the wall?|
The ways in which a child can keep a parent from getting that much-needed sleep are numerous:
Talking to their stuffed animals.
Peeing the bed.
Pooping the bed.
Barfing the bed.
Jumping on the bed.
Clicking the light switch on and off in rapid succession.
Pounding on the door.
Pounding on the wall.
Climbing up the wall.
Waking up their sibling.
Climbing on the furniture.
Knocking over the furniture.
Making too much noise.
And, oddly enough, being too quiet.
And when the kids wake us up, we'll do just about anything to get them back to sleep. The other night The Wife and I piled sleepless kids in our bed with us and watched an episode of Reading Rainbow about comedy. (Because when it comes to making people laugh, the first person I think of is LeVar Burton!) Later, I sat in the living room at 3:30 AM feeding my baby pop tarts as he forced me to play with a fidget spinner. (And if I wasn't playing with it the way he wanted me to, he most certainly would let me know.)
Of course, once kids become teenagers we don't need to worry about them anymore, and we can count on a peaceful sleep every night. (At least that's what I really hope will happen, even though reports I've gotten from people who have been through it seem to disagree.)
There's a lot of talk about the zombie apocalypse. I don't think it will happen, but if it does, it won't consist of the undead, it will be a zombie apocalypse featuring sleepless parents slowly going through their daily motions without any visible sign of higher brain functions.
Kids daydream about all kinds of fantastical, wonderful things. Parents daydream about sleep. It truly is the final frontier.