The day started irritatingly early. The baby, for once, did not wake during the night, but decided to get up for the day at 5.30. Which, since I’d not got to sleep until midnight, was not ideal. I know there are plenty of mothers who survive on much less (broken) sleep per night – and I’m as guilty of the sleep-deprivation one-upmanship game as the next person – but on top of some really crappy nights, it felt like too much.
Our toddler is a very light sleeper, and as I fed the baby, I began my usual mantra of, “I hope he gets back to sleep, I hope he doesn’t wake his brother”, and listened acutely for any sounds coming from the adjoining bedroom. For some reason, I remembered something I’d read in one of the million self-help books I’ve amassed over the years (see previous posts on that topic). It was an exercise from Susan Jeffers’ book, Embracing Uncertainty. She’s best known for Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, but I found the lesser-known one to be more relevant to my own circumstances.
Anyway, the bit I remembered in my sleep-addled haze was the suggestion that if you really, really hope something will happen, it can be helpful to remove the word “hope” from your thought and replace it with “maybe”. So, in my case, it would be, “Maybe he’ll get back to sleep, maybe he’ll not wake his brother. But maybe he won’t”. For some people this might sound daft, as if it could change anything about the situation. The point is, it won’t, but it does alter your emotional attachment to it. So when he didn’t get back to sleep and indeed did wake his brother <sigh>, I was less distraught that my plea hadn’t worked. I’d already prepared myself for the possibility that what I really wanted might not come to pass.
It didn’t stop me feeling any less tired, but I was less irritable with the children, and more able to clear my mind and deal with the situation as it was, rather than coping with disappointment.
Not revolutionary, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.