Are Friends Electric on my stereo. I have been fascinated by Numan's music ever since I was a little child: it started through simple childhood fascination with the fascinating vinyl album cover my brother owned and moved on, with time, to a fascination due to typical reminiscing of carefree times gone by. Times when I wasn't eternally tired; times when I was able to listen to the music I like on my stereo without having a toddler screaming at me that he doesn't want to listen to "this music"; times when I could listen to music of my choice whenever I felt like it, not only when my son was being dressed by his mother after his evening bath.
This Gary Numan incident reminded me of a question I was recently asked. A [childless] friend wanted me to rate how bad my tiredness is on a numerical scale. I can't do that; even though I can compare between personal historical eras of tiredness I have no objective frame of reference to reliably relate to nor experience varied enough to establish my own reference (the way I do when I review films). However, I can comfortably state the obvious and say that since I became a parent, my sleep is no longer the same and being tired has become my business as usual state.
Some of you may wonder why this is the case. After all, our son is way past the age where his routine involved waking up in the middle of the night; unless things go wrong and he's particularly sick, he would normally sleep for more than ten hours a night. So what is my excuse for being eternally tired?
The answer is simple and is best demonstrated through a look at my typical day. Most of my time awake during a generic day is spent on work: either commuting to and from work or work itself. After work I usually need to pick my son up from childcare; upon our arrival home it's usually time for some house chores and dinner. Our son's night is concluded with a bath (note: he doesn't bath himself) and watching an episode of his favorite TV program before heading to bed - usually at about 20:00.
There, in fact, is the crust of the problem: my own life, as an individual, starts at the time my son goes to bed. Even then it's limited: we have to give him some time to actually fall asleep, we can't do anything that would wake him up (like listening to music or watching films the way I would have liked to), and - obviously - we have to keep to our house as its resident babysitters.
With said toddler waking up at about 6:00 (sad but true), a balancing act game ensues: how much of a life do I want to have vs. how much sleep? I think of all the things I like doing, things that I used to have hours of my life each day to do them with, and the sad reality becomes obvious. Sleeping, reading, messing with my computers, watching movies and everything else I like doing - all have to compete for a slot of my limited night time piece of personal time.
The way things are my de facto solution to that balancing game is a routine involving some six hours of sleep. Six hours are not enough for a healthy human being, I know, but the temptations of the internet have proven too much for this sad worrier. Wait, things get worse: The morning wake up call does not come at my time of choice; it comes abruptly, when my son decides it's the right time to visit his parents' bed. On average that wakeup call comes at 6:00, but the standard deviation is high; sometimes I go to bed at midnight expecting to wake up at 6:00 only to hear the dreaded steps across the corridor at 4:50.
The outcome is undeniable: I am eternally tired. Yet in this struggle of priorities my choice thus far has been clear: I would rather have a life of my own, even as a restricted parent, than have a good night's sleep.