Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Navel Gazing: "Shut Up."

My brain has been waking up.

You know that saying, that you don't know what you have until it's gone? Well, sometimes you don't know what you've lost until it returns.

See, Babyman isn't sleeping through the night. He's nearing 18 months old, but he still isn't sleeping through the night. Gradually gradually however, he has been doing better at night. I've had a number of nights now where he has only woken once, and often that's while I am still up. So for me, there have been a number of nights that I get a full night's sleep. It's heavenly. I'm still tired all the time, and it will be a long while before I catch up on my sleep, but the difference is palpable.

Before, I felt like I was functioning pretty well, and I guess I was. The kids were cared for, the bills were paid, we managed to get to our various commitments if not on time, then at least in time to participate. The house wasn't (isn't) clean, but we had clothes to wear and dishes to eat out of. I spoke to my friends and family on a regular basis and felt like I'd had a good conversation once in awhile. I knew I wasn't doing as much as I'd like, but I was doing the best I could and it was OK.

Now I realize how little I was engaging the world around me. Sure, I was talking to people and observing my environment, but only a small percentage was being processed. I didn't talk as much as I might normally, because I couldn't hold a coherent thought in my head long enough to verbalize it and still be in the flow of the conversation. I wasn't actually noticing a lot of what was going on around me. I knew what the kids were up too; that was important. But beyond that, I was too sleepless and distracted to see much of what was happening. So I listened a lot, heard a little, and talked less.

I am still distracted, still scattered, but I am a lot more awake and aware than I was before. My neurons are firing in sync a lot more often than they were before, allowing me to follow conversations and think of things to say. This has led to a new problem: I talk too much. Now I make connections between what is being said in the conversation and my own experiences, and I am blurting them out before I've had time to think about whether it's really going to further the discussion or not. Sometimes, I am so excited by what's being said that I am interrupting people to blurt out things that are marginally useful at best. This goes for conversations with adults AND things I say to my kids. Too often, I am telling myself, "Shut up, Kit, just shut up."

I am SO glad to be functioning a little better. The sleep was desperately needed. I feel so much more awake and engaged, and I am getting more done. I see the benefits in so many little areas of my life. I didn't realize how badly my sleepless nights were taking their toll, until I started waking up. However, I am going to have to reign in this verbal barrage that spills out of my mouth. It's going to take conscious effort. Listen more, talk less. Make words the currency that you spend wisely. That's what I will work toward. (Hmm, it might be a good goal for my WRITING too, eh? Sorry.) Hopefully, I will find my balance where I can take care of business, enjoy socializing, and contribute to conversations without running my mouth non-stop. It's a goal. :)

Those of you with kids: did you notice the difference in your life when your baby (or babies) started sleeping better? In your mental function? Everyone: is there anything you are working toward improving in yourself right now?


Bird said...

Wow Kit, welcome back to the land of the living! This is so powerfully described, and I'm glad you are having a chance to be more ebullient - don't be telling yourself to shut up, it's the joys of spring and a good nights sleep talking! Makes me want to wander out into the street and strike up a conversation with the first person I see, just because I CAN... although in London, that is not always a good idea :)

Anyway, here's hoping that the boy stays on course to sleeping through, that's such an important milestone.

S said...

I felt this way after Funny Girl was born because she had a rough first year in the nighttime department. I read an article once that said lack of sleep physically changes your brain. I certainly felt like a different person when I was able to rest again.

I'm always trying to improve something, usually three or four things. My current focus is on mindsets. I just posted about it on the Thinkers blog actually.

I am guilty of talking too much sometimes too. I can say, from my perspective, I haven't thought you were talking too much. :)

Kit said...

@ Bird- Thank you. And, you know, it can be awfully interesting to meet random people and hear whatever it is they have to say. There is a lot of experience, humor, wisdom and surprises out there to be found. Billy has an uncanny habit of attracting the most wildly interesting people and experiences when we're out and about, who just seem to find us out of some parallel dimension and strike up a conversation. It makes for quite exciting days, sometimes. :)

@S- Well, that does make me feel better. I guess mainly, I want to quit interrupting and listen more carefully. And I read your post on mindsets- I've been pondering its application on myself! It's so fundamental, but so easy to overlook.