A pink taxi

A pink taxi

November 11, 2010

The Paradoxes of Sleep

My mother always woke us up gently in the morning. I try to emulate her today when I wake my own children for school. Waking them up is one of the highlights of my day, as is  the closing act of tucking them in bed in the evening.

Waking them takes time. I carefully nudge them or affectionately kiss them. I anticipate their day for them, remind them of those things that they had been looking forward to, of their breakfast that is ready for them or of the activity or party they would be attending that day. I dress the younger ones in bed, with their eyes half closed still.

Sometimes, my youngest will argue and refuse to wear a shirt, a  certain style,  or will request the "Naruto" tshirt too frequently. In the next bedroom, my daughter often reminds me of things, such as how a dress would not be appropriate for sports that day. Her hair is disheveled as I apply SPF on her face, protection from Dubai's warm sun.

There is a  Murphy's Law which applies to my children however. I call it the "weekend paradox". How can you explain that on weekends the children will wake up on their own, very very early and that weekdays, I have to convince them to get out of bed? It is analogous to the honeymoon paradox. When I travel alone with my husband, I imagine myself  deliciously catching up on lost sleep, as the children aren't there to wake me up at the break of dawn. But  because I am so relaxed during these childless vacations,  I find myself jumping out of bed early, and eager to start the day with my husband and all the fun that our trip promises us. 

I actually can't even remember what sleeping in feels like. In French, the term "grasse matinee" has no other equivalent, but means to sleep deeply into the late morning hours as the sunlight tries hard to stir you from your slumber. Another Murphy's Law is "the Summer paradox". Most humans vacation in the Summer when the days are long,  bedtimes delayed, and when the sun rises high, early in the morning. Why can't  vacations be for those cold wintery dark mornings, the ones we face every day of the academic year?

Waking up in boarding school was a whole new experience considering my seasonal shock, having moved to Switzerland from Dubai! Instead of my mother's sweet whispers was the supervisor knocking her clinical knocks on my door till I pronounced my "bonjour mademoiselle", on freezing dark mornings! Then I would wear the many layers that kept me warm, and checked that all  my schoolwork was ready before heading to the main campus  cafeteria.

My husband and I have not slept soundly for many years now. He often wakes up for his regular trips to Kabul at the wee hours, and gets dressed in a house still drowsy with snores and dreams. I am glad my children have now passed the crib stage when, no matter how well scheduled, they would wake up at random hours of the night and make their various requests: feeding, changing, nightmares etc. I have literally slept walked to them and remember peering through my windows, into the stillness of the Geneva night or the active nocturnal Dubai traffic.

REM, a preferred band, selected a sleep related terminology as a name. I can sympathize. There is nothing more delicious than sleep. I can see it when I covery my kids one more time before heading off toward my own night of slumber.


  1. I can still feel Mommy's gentle soft hands waking us up in the morning. Waking up to her instead of an alarm gave us all an incredible sense of security. Breakfast was always ready, as we would groggily walk to the kitchen and eat the labneh and zaatar or the cornflakes she had made for us. She used to braid my hair as I ate the food, and now that I am a mother myself, I understand how she was being efficient.
    Mornings in my household are all about efficiency. I have a partner in crime, Dean, who helps me navigate the feedings and the demands of young children. But there is a certain sweetness about mornings, even when early, because the kids are fresh and eager to take on the day, their appetite open for healthy meals. I like to bring them into our bed to cuddle and kiss, and those are also special moments, but cut short on school days by demands of time. I also need to make a lunchbox daily, as I am sure you still need to do also. There is so much promise in the beginning of a day, and much more exhaustion by the end of it. That's why I enjoy bathtime, giving closure and relaxation to my boys, as they splash around, letting out their last breath of energy before they recharge again for the next day.....

  2. My mother in law,an Irish French lady gave birth to 10 children!In simple figures,she was pregnant for almost 10 years of her life,nursed and changed for another 15!!Her sleep now is so paramount to her,that she is sensitive to the slightest noise,made by her children,grandchildren and their brats.
    She tells me that the best quality sleep she ever had,was her jet lag deep-well sleep! I was lucky that I never woke up during the night when my poor wife used to nurse,and take care of our children.I just used to turn off my ears to the cries and the lalabyes of the night.

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