Yes indeedy, I proudly held up my all-nighters on essays as proof of my hardiness.
Once I worked two straight weeks with no weekend because they were paying me good money to. Yip, I was tired then!
I have run camps where I have been busy chasing children, counseling the counselors and getting ready for the next day long past when I should have been and had 3 hours’ sleep before getting up to chase children all over again. Oh boy, I was tired then, that’s for sure!
But I have discovered that one thing holds all those instances apart. Choice. I had a choice. At times I didn’t think I did, but I did. I could have walked away, I could have said “crikey dick, I really need to lie down” and gone and done so.
But as a parent, exhaustion hits a new high (low?). Because there is no choice. You may have worked a 9-hour day. You may have scrubbed two bathrooms. You may have entertained guests for dinner and then stayed up a bit longer reading a good book (verrrry verrrry silly idea, that one!) because you were on a bit of a high because they asked for seconds of dinner and the recipe.
But Murphy’s Law is so very much alive in the world of parenting that this will be the one night in a hundred that your child will develop a tummy bug. And just as your tired eyes gratefully close and you snuggle into your comfy pillow, you will hear a strange coughing noise that sounds wrong somehow. So you will haul yourself back off your comfy pillow to ‘just go and check’. And you will find they have power-puked … all over the bed and down the wall and somehow into the chest of drawers.
So I’m sorry, you can be as tired as you like, you can be nearly fainting with exhaustion yourself, but there is no choice but to undress (while trying to avoid getting puke in their hair), wash and re-dress that child, strip the bed, wipe down the wall, sort the clean from the grubby clothes (or just grab the lot and fling them all in the machine), find an ice cream container for the next round (there is never only one power-puke), rub their back, cuddle them, convince them to lie down. Then you stand in the hall and try to figure out which is worse – rinsing out the puked-on duvet now when you’re so tired or waking up knowing you have to do it before breakfast.
But you’re tired … so tired … so you sink into your bed … and your eyes float closed … you sigh … you snuggle to get comfy … … and then … you hear a strange coughing noise. (At this point, please re-read the previous paragraph and imagine yourself going through the same routine all over again, only this time you’re digging for blankets because you only had one spare duvet).
Ok, at this point I’ll let you get a little sleep, but only for half an hour at a time because the puker is now in bed with you – it just seems easier that way – but it does mean you’re jumping at every remotely cough-like sound. Oh, but wait – what’s that I hear? Yes! That’s your alarm. It’s time to get up. And go to work.
NOW you’re tired.
((Addendum. It has been pointed out to me that in fact it is not like this in our house. That there are in fact two of us and we in fact work as a team and that in fact my marvelous house-husband in fact washed that puked-on duvet! Indignant yelp! I agree with him. Totally deserved righteousness. But we’re still tired. You know who are REALLY tired? Single parents. I take my hat off to you time and again. Usually when I’m thinking I’m tired.))