The best advice I never listened to was to sleep when my baby sleeps. As someone who resists sleep in favour of doing (anything) and regards sleep as a guilty pleasure rather than a vital need, I simply could not bring myself to do it enough. Occasionally I crawled limply into bed and passed out. But most often I craved desperately someone in my life to nurture and tuck me into bed – and best of all if that someone could have been me.
I’ve realized time and time again that sleeping as much as possible when your body demands it is likely to be the most productive thing you can do. I regret those times when I could have napped but instead swept floors, did laundry or made food – ceaseless tasks – and I’m sad at my refusal to accept my vulnerability and exhaustion. I kept going yet all the while feeling sorry for myself and yearning for sleep and nurturing (lots of it).
I see now that sleep is not only the most productive choice but also the most selfless. There are consequences to me being a non-well-rested mom. Maybe if I’d have been more rested, I would have had more self-discipline and strength to feed my daughter better, to make different choices, avoid the possibility of open heart surgery. I used to like the saying smell the rose while you can, representing my yearning to drink the most of life and not miss out on anything, but the older, sometimes wiser, infinitely more tired self, says to all those who need it, sleep while you can.