I crawled into bed at one and knew I would have to be up again at three and five and seven. I was told this could happen night after night after night… for months.
Welcome to the newborn stage.
I have never known delirium the way I did during the first few years of my boys lives. I have also never known greater support.
If I were out for coffee with a friend and randomly burst into tears, it didn’t matter. They understood I was sleep deprived. If I showed up to an event with no mascara looking haggard and pathetic, it didn’t matter. Everyone understood I was sleep deprived. If I exited a store void of diaper bag, coat, credit card, or child, I was warmly welcomed back, quickly forgiven and encouraged… all because I was sleep deprived.
It’s as if my puffy blood-shot eyes and newborn car seat were unspoken code for, “You’re allowed to be crazy.”
But what if we took out the word sleep and inserted it with love, joy or encouragement. Could we muster the same amount of compassion for people?
Sleep deprivation is hell, but so is love deprivation.
Sleep dep makes us say crazy things and burst into random fits of crying episodes’ because we’re emotionally worn down… but could encouragement dep not look the same?
Sleep dep makes us forget simple everyday joys because our thoughts are in a constant state of foggy haze… but could contentment dep not look the same?
It’s easy to have sympathy for a new mom void of sleep because the baggage is so darn cute. But what happens when that baggage reeks of a horrible childhood, a bitter divorce, darkening depression, or the loss of a loved one?
If you take out the word ‘mom’ and insert it with ‘man’ woman’ ‘friend’ ‘stranger,’ and take out the word ‘sleep’ and insert it with the word ‘answer’ ‘hope’ ‘help’ ‘grace’ ‘peace,’ it puts us all on the same playing field, doesn’t it? It levels us all down to the most basic human truth – that we’re all just trying to find our way… that we’re all just trying to function the best we know how… that we’re all just trying to live beautiful lives in the midst of a whole lotta confusing deprivation (whatever that may be).
So in the same way the sisterhood of the traveling mom-hood arises the moment a little one is born, perhaps we might be able to offer similar extensions of grace if we started seeing our friends, family and everyday strangers the same way.
Here’s a thought:
The next time you have a run in with someone over anything, pretend they’re carting a newborn car seat. Pretend they just had the worst night ever. Pretend they are beyond sleep deprived, totally beat down, they feel like crap while trying to pretend they have it all together… and cut them some slack.
This alone could become our greatest act of service.