How do women do it? How do they stay functioning members of society when their little one won't sleep? She was up for 2.5 hours last night. I know I've been lucky so far in mamadom; she's been an excellent sleeper. Even her four month wakeful wasn't that bad; up for ~30 minutes to eat and play a little, then back to sleep. But this is different, and it's wreaking havoc. Luckily grandma is here to help, maybe MJ knew this was a good time to get her sleeplessness out of her system. Come morning, choices are to either come in to work at the normal time, but feel so tired all day I accomplish nothing. Or get a few extra hours of sleep, but come in to work so late that I accomplish nothing. Choice is beautiful, but I prefer when there's a good option.
Frequently in these last 14 months I've thought about cavewomen. How did cavewomen birth and raise babies, before modern psychology stepped in? What would my uneducated instincts do here? It's hard to imagine, really. Perhaps we can look at chimps for a clue, but you never see a chimp that looks like they didn't get enough sleep. When they're tired, they sleep. If baby needs them, they wake up and deal, then back to sleep. And daddy chimp brings back whatever food they need.
Most of the difficulties I've encountered in child rearing so far stem from these myriad expectations that we've placed on ourselves. If I didn't have a job, didn't care whether my house was clean (it's not) and didn't worry about satisfaction beyond my children then there wouldn't be a problem. I'd be able to focus on breastfeeding, sleeping and existing. It's easy to say that if we had adequate parental leave policies then things would be better, but it's not that simple. I know in Europe some countries allow a year off for the birth of a child. That sounds nice, but, at least in my field, it's unrealistic. How can you stay current on science and technology when you're gone for a year? Especially if you want more than one kid. When you add time spent pregnant, which is at a minimum a distraction from your job, then you're gone for 2+ years if you have 2 children.
Even if the law mandated it, the reality would still not bring satisfaction. It reminds me of the requirement to make concessions for disabled students. Physical concessions are easy to make in mentally demanding places, like college. But mental concessions can only get you so far. You still have to do the work. In the workplace, adequate parental leave policies wouldn't make up for the fact that we wouldn't be here. How can you give tenure to someone that hasn't produced anything because they've been having babies?
So why have we as women built this can't win situation for ourselves? I blame it on biology. If society continues to function similar to how it does now, it won't take long before we evolve to have children later in life. To some extent this is already happening. Many women postpone having children, and if they wait too long then they don't reproduce. Those that are able to have children late in life reproduce and pass on that genetic capability. Our life expectancy has increased but our reproductive expectancy has not.
And I also blame ourselves. Men didn't really want to give us the right to work outside the home. I know it was a hard fought battle, but some days I wish I didn't have that choice. Being as the choices I have now are not good ones, maybe not having the choice at all would be better.
And maybe I'll feel differently once I get a little sleep.