The reasons mums stay up late when the world is asleep
The world is asleep. The night is dark and beckons us to bed. Yet, we are awake. Why?
It’s 11pm and I’m up writing this. My children were in bed by 7.30pm and I could have easily crashed soon after that, knowing that I need to wake up early the next day. God knows I need the rest like all mothers do. In my case, it’s 14 years of sleep debt and counting.
But, soon it’ll be midnight and I am up, tired. And I know around the world, millions of mothers are also up as the world slumbers.
We wait for the moment our children sleep, romanticizing the notion that we can also catch up on our sleep then. Yet, we don’t.
There are many compelling reasons for this strange nocturnal, sleep-depreciating habit us mums have.
Mums stay up late when they are tired because reality is, they don’t sleep when the baby is sleeping. Instead, they work.
Let’s face it – kids can be notorious little time wasters. It’s like they wait for you to sit or lie down to decide they have some kind of life-threatening need that must be attended to NOW. Like hunger, or the urge to poop or vomit.
And so naturally when they sleep, we work. As a work-at-home mother, my productivity is high when the kids are at school. But it (and my creativity) peaks in the still of the night, when my boys are sleeping and I am on a tired high.
Some mums also find the time and space they need late at night to get household chores done. I for one do the laundry in the night and hang it to dry under the stars, so it starts drying as the first rays of the sun hit it the next morning.
Mums stay up late when they are tired so they feel like themselves for a fragment of time.
It’s a universal mum-thing. We’re so tired that we can barely keep our eyes open. Yet we insist on sitting down in front of the TV to catch up on past episodes of our favourite series. Or watch a movie. We might even attempt to read a book. Or give in to our husband’s not-so-subtle hints about getting some naughty action.
Sadly, hilariously, we drift off approximately ten minutes into the start of whatever activity we attempt to accomplish. Still, those ten minutes make up the magical moments where we are reminded of who we used to be.
It reminds us of distant memories when TV time did not automatically mean endless episodes of Peppa Pig or Teen Titans. When the soundtrack of our life did not march to the beat of Let it go.
When we were able to come home from work and not fret about cooking double dinners or feel immense mum-guilt (pick your reason). Instead, we ordered whatever junk we wanted to eat and ate it on the couch, watching whatever junk we wanted to watch.
Mums stay up late when they are tired, so they can think and sometimes worry.
Nighttime is peaceful. We find peace-of-mind to think and plan when the world is asleep. We might be exhausted physically, but our minds often burst to life after midnight. It is then that we think some of our best thoughts, and conduct precise planning for the next day, even week.
Are the kids lunches sorted? Check! Did they do their homework? Check! Have I pumped enough milk for tomorrow? Check! Am I prepared for my presentation? Check! Clothes ironed? Check! Check! Check!
Other times, our minds rest even though our bodies are still awake and tired.
We mind-walk down memory lane, lingering on certain beautiful memories, or just let our busy minds go blank for some moments.
Or, we think about this world we live in, and how our children can stay safe in it. We project our minds to a future where the little ones are not so dependent on us. We wonder if they’ll be okay when we are no more. If they’ll be happy, love and receive the love they deserve.
Mums stay up late when they are tired because they are sorry, and so they can gaze at the beauty of their sleeping children.
There have been many times when I’ve lost my temper at my kids during the day, but when I see them fast asleep, waves of shame and guilt at losing my cool engulf me. Maybe it’s because of how sweet and cherubic sleeping children look.
Innocence radiates as long lashes brush the gentle curve of their cheeks. And I sit next to my sleeping babies and tell them I’m sorry, that next time I’ll be more patient. I know other mums do this too.
Or we stay awake, tired, yet marveling at these perfect, beautiful little human beings we’ve created. We give them gentle kisses, and we murmur words of love in their ears that they acknowledge with dream-smiles.
You stay up late to watch over your sick baby …
You stay up late to give the baby her final nightime feed…
You stay up late because your newborn will only sleep on your chest…
You stay up late to make sure your baby is breathing…
You stay up late waiting for your husband to return from his night-shift…
You stay up late so you can speak to your sister who lives on the other side of the world from you…
You stay up late to bake the cake for your child’s birthday party tomorrow…
You stay up late to sip a cup of tea in peace, and while it’s still hot…
You stay up late waiting for your teenager to come home…
We stay up late when we are tired and the world sleeps because we are mothers, and this is just one facet of the secret and exclusive world of motherhood.
Who’s up with me now?
Also read: I’m sorry for being a hot-tempered mum