5.30am. Oh the sour mental agony as I realise the baby is UP. Not just up for a feed. He’s UP. God, Jesus, f*$K, c&*t, arse, damn all in this wretched world to hell. IT’S TOO EARLY FOR THIS SHIT! You should never, ever wake a sleeping mother.
I am not a morning person.
I have never wanted to be a morning person. For the love of god I have practically etched my career out of this fact. Theatre happens in the evening, not in the ungodly, demoralising pools of hell that is half five in the fecking morning. Oh Jesus I hate this part of parenthood.
This baby has trained me to handle anything after 6.30am, but before it? I am a coiled lump of negativity branded with the devil’s thoughts and Ursula the sea witch’s tongue. Dramatic much? Me? As my husband encountered me on an innocent 5.40am trip to the loo, I may have no-eye-contact-hissed in his direction ‘there is no joy here’. Like Gollum at a Sound Of Music sing-along.
If anyone other than my baby dared broach the subject of getting up at 5.30am just for the craic? They’d be ended. After this repugnantly early start, the simple rule of thumb for the rest of the days is: NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING MOTHER.
Let’s break this down a little bit. Any mother with a baby/toddler/partying teenager must be allowed to treat sleep like it’s an early viewing of the new season of Game Of Thrones. It must be cherished, zealously guarded and worshipped as one might a curried chip when hungover. If she chooses sleep over housework, that’s wise. If she chooses sleep over cooking, she’s got her shit together.
If she chooses sleep over a night out, understand that was akin to Sophie’s Choice for her, accept it was a difficult decision and don’t give her shit for it. If she chooses sleep over sex, why are you surprised? If she chooses sleep over wine, by god she must need it badly, and if she chooses sleep over an early viewing of the new season of Game Of Thrones, well, then you may need to check in with her…
If she has managed to grab a few precious minutes of extra sleep, step away. Like, back the fuck off immediately and do all in your tiny world to make sure the reason she wakes has NOTHING to do with you. The consequences will be dire. Basically, unless you are dying, do not wake a sleeping mother.
Do not skulk past her room should a floorboard squeak and you wake her. Do not prepare food within a mile radius that might send smells her way and tempt her subconscious from slumber to feast on something she HASN’T HAD TO MAKE HERSELF or set the fire alarm off. Do not let the theme tunes of Corrie, The Good Wife, EastEnders, House of Cards, the current terrifying ITV drama etc etc drift her way lest she be tempted to watch them before 2026, which is the next time she will have an opportunity to gorge on them shamelessly.
Do not have a solo poo and leave the baby safely somewhere else in the house, the baby will absolutely take this opportunity to practise a Chaka Khan-style vocal warm up and wake the sleeping mother. It’s uncomfortable knowing the baby is watching you strain to get last night’s pizza out, you say? SUCK IT UP. If seeing you poo is the worst thing this baby sees before he’s five, we can all live with that.
As the mother of a 9 month old who still wakes for at least two feeds a night and sometimes decides 5.30am is party time, I am unashamed to say that sometimes, I take the advice often reserved for the mothers of newborns, and I nap when the baby naps. I don’t always catch up on my emails. I don’t always concentrate on work. I don’t always go downstairs and ‘catch up on the housework’.
I don’t always put on an extra load of washing. I don’t always use this time effectively in any way shape or form, except to SLEEP. Which to me, is the wisest thing I could possibly do. Some might brand me lazy, as my work-life is not bursting at the seams and my house is far from pristine, but screw you. It makes me a nicer person, less pissed off, less stressed, less anxious, less put upon.
And by God can I feel put upon, it’s one of my less attractive qualities. The more sleep I have, the less likely my day will consist of me thinking shades of ‘my life is nothing but an empty shell cast aside on a river of despair drowning in the sorrow of my own misfortune’ about something like dropping my fork on the floor.
So, all you lovely sleep-deprived Mammas, for the sake of all our sanity, let’s take a collective breath and pray to the old gods and the new* that we never see the clock say 5.30am ever again, unless Ryan Gosling is outside with a limo waiting to bring us to the Maldives. That’s the only time it’s acceptable.
*Yes, yes, yes, another G.O.T reference.
About Riona O’ Connor
Riona, AKA The Unnatural Woman is an actor, singer, over-eater and blogger, usually found on a West End stage. Nowadays she spends much of her time despairing over how to entertain her young baby or plotting how to make Wine Time as compulsory as baby groups and cake.