When String Bean was three months old, I took her into work to show her around. I’d decided to make my maternity leave permanent and needed to sign some paperwork, and everyone had been asking when they’d get to see her. She was a fussy baby in general, a mama’s girl who wanted nothing to do with strangers, but on that visit she was surprisingly calm, sleeping through most of it as one coworker after another came by to coo at her. One woman, Mary, one of the funny ones I was sure to miss after quitting, asked how she was sleeping at night. A miraculous thing happened at three months old. String Bean discovered her thumb. Sure, now that her bite is getting messed up from thumb-sucking, it isn’t so cute, not to mention the germs I imagine on her thumb every time I watch her slide it into her mouth. But at three months old, thumb-sucking meant self-soothing, and she suddenly started sleeping in a solid block of five or six hours, what we considered to be “through the night” in our sleep-deprived states.
“Wow, that’s great!” Mary said, “Sleeping through the night already. I don’t think my kids slept through the night consistently until they were eight years old.”
Her comment struck me as funny, an obvious joke. Of course kids sleep through the night before they are eight years old. Don’t they? Well, I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old and I’d say it’s a 50/50 chance each night whether I get a full night’s sleep or have to get up with one of them in the night. Last night I was up with Peanut three times due to nightmares and her generally not feeling well. That’s like having a newborn again. If Mary was right, does that mean I only have three more years of interrupted sleep before I’m only getting up semi-regularly with one child? I certainly hope so. Because I miss it. Sleep.