Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Survival Strategies for Sleep-Deprived Parents

by | May 12, 2022 | Society | 1 comment


Today is a very important day for me.

I’m launching ‘Speed-R-Us.’

“Speed-R-Us” will be a tech-enabled membership and subscription service that will deliver methamphetamine to the household of parents with babies.

The slogan, “because how else are you going to fucking function with no sleep?”

I keep going back and forth on the name. Crank is another name for methamphetamine or speed. Other words include ice, chalk, wash, trash, dunk, gak, pookie, cookies, Christina, cotton candy, rocket fuel, and Scooby snax. These other street names are not included but should be considered: baking soda, Karen, tweakie-quickie and pookie-cookie.

This idea came to me as I looked over at the horizon and watched the sunrise.

This is not how I planned to spend the early hours of my days. No, I wanted to sleep. But so did my baby and the only way she does it is if I carry her in a sling.

But that’s not all.

She also likes to feel her body in a vertical position to help with her digestion. She prefers the bouncing motion of me walking her around because it reminds her of her amniotic fluid’s soothing waves when she was a fetus.

So I wake up early (against my will, remember?), I wear her in a sling and I set to walk my living room in the dark while I watch the yellow and orange hues of the sun slowly invade and warm my living room.

I think of the day ahead and everything else that needs to be accomplished and wonder, “How will I get anything done today?”

And just like that, an idea for an empire is born, “Cookie-Pookies-R-Us.”

As I hand off my daughter to her mom three hours later, I notice how tender my lower back feels. After miles of walking around the house carrying a county-fair-sized pumpkin strapped to myself like a poorly constructed parachute, I have no questions about why my muscles are whimpering.

Society taught me better, “man, don’t cry!” So I moved on with my day and my venture idea, thinking that a tube of Ben Gay or Icy Hot might just be the perfect welcome gift to new members signing up for ‘Fuel-R-Us.’

Parenting is hard

I knew that going in. And I’m just at the beginning of it. Parents I know with older kids make sure to point out that it never ends.

This part feels harder because of the lack of sleep and the parents’ inability to use one hand to tap the other hand’s palm signing a ‘time-out’ to their kids.

There is no ‘time-out’ in parenting.

It fascinates me how emotions, meltdowns, questions, explorations, and decisions flood you from every angle when you are a parent.

In short, happiness or contentment as a parent is not within reach if you don’t first learn to embrace the infinite ups and downs that happen in the span of one minute. You just have to flow with it as if you are a surfer in The Endless Summer documentary.

Like the other night, on Mother’s Day, after the celebrations were done and the gifts were unwrapped, my wife had me order Thai food because she hadn’t had a bite to eat all day.

My toddler and I sat down excitedly at the table to eat yellow curry and pineapple fried rice. Later, my wife joined us after changing our baby’s diaper — who sat on her lap.

Quiet and uneventful dinners like this can feel like a reward at the end of hectic days that require Gargantuan efforts like getting out of the house with clothes on.

My wife brings the bowl close to her nose and lets the heat of the ceramic warm her hands and the smell of the spice warm her nostrils. As she started putting it down, our baby rehearsed her fine motor skills, grabbed the bowl and dunked it on the ground.

The bowl landed with a loud thud on our floor; luckily, it didn’t break. It actually looked like an installation an artist from a New York art school rearranged haphazardly with an onion here, a potato there, a carrot hanging upside down from the edge of a chair and the yellow coconut milk adorning the floor as only Pollock would be able to do… and now, my baby, too.

It looked exquisite amidst the chaos.

I knew that if I took a picture of it, I would be able to sell an NFT of the image. Keep the picture but make ridiculous amounts of money from the deed to the digital asset.

But I had no time.

Pollock’s painting supplies were everywhere.

The curry was all over the floor, all over our baby, and all over my wife, who didn’t have a chance to change since we got back from the Mother Day’s brunch we went to. There was yellow everywhere and it was disturbing.

I’m not going to lie to you.

I have now changed thousands of diapers of two healthy and regular young girls, and while I love curry, I can confidently tell you that curry loses its visual appeal when it is spread on canvas.

It looks like poop. 

Correction; it looks like liquid poop.

Above all the commotion, my toddler’s crying was very loud. She got scared by the sound and she was overwhelmed by the mess the curry made and how mommy had no food.

There were so many things to take care of:

  • Cleaning the floor.
  • Cleaning my wife.
  • Cleaning my baby.
  • Getting something decent for my wife to eat.
  • Eating the rest of my curry, so my wife wouldn’t ask for it.

But above all that, rose the importance of comforting our daughter. To tell her that this was going to be okay, that we would get more food, that we clean the mess, that we could salvage the clothes, or that we could get more if we needed to throw this away.

That’s what parenting feels like all the time; tending to the needs of our kids over our own, either out of love or primitive drive. It happens when we put our desire to teach them what’s right over the desire to be liked by them, to change their diapers even when we are tired because we don’t want them to get burnt, to pick them up and wander around the house when they can’t sleep.

It’s a great lesson on what’s essential in life, on cutting through the noise to find the thing that needs to be done.

This is a lesson that comes with age. I’m not saying that the only way to get to it is through parenting, but parenting helps.

You see it on display in ultradistance running. The records and the wins go to the young. But as a group, ordinary middle-aged and older people have a higher completion rate than younger people.

There are many theories as to why this happens. I don’t know that we need that many. Aging teaches you heartbreak, failure, regret, courage, patience, grievance, rediscovery, persistence, love, and reward.

It teaches you how to live and, apparently, how to run for two straight days.

I don’t know the pride these runners feel when they accomplish such an extraordinary feat. When I finished my first and only half marathon, I completed it by adding a 100-meter dash to the restroom of my local Whole Foods.

I can imagine it.

It probably feels a lot like the rewards of parenting.

It doesn’t matter how hard it gets; there is no replacement for holding your kid’s body against yours, kissing their breastmilk-scented soft cheeks, smelling their head, and leaving an imprint of your nose on the top of their still-forming skulls.

But that won’t help with your energy and you still have a lot to do.

So, would you consider being a founding member of this social enterprise empowering millions of sleep-deprived parents like you get ‘tweakie-quickie’ with it?

1 Comment

  1. Evelyn J. Willburn (Right as Rain Online)

    Great idea! Too bad somebody didn’t come up with it thirty years ago when mine were babies. 😉


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