When we were growing up, my best friend V used to joke that I was “duvet pathetic” before 11am but also after 10.30/11pm. This equated to being utterly useless in every respect, a sleepyhead whose only interest was focused on snuggling under a duvet, groaning slightly at any interruption.
As a young adult this obsession with my duvet progressed slightly, into a willingness on mornings to curl up with the Guardian on the sofa and quietly sip a latte. V would always joke about it, but I’m sure my nocturnal habits were rather annoying. Then onto Cambridge, where missing lectures due to oversleeping never seemed to be other people’s norm (the place was absolutely right for me in every other respect, but I do remember thinking that frequenting a different university where oversleeping was more normal would have fitted in better with my sleep needs!).
In my defence, this is not to say that I’m utterly useless outside my core hours. Somehow or other I’ve always managed to function – perhaps though only when it’s been absolutely necessary to do so. I exclusively breastfed 2/3 of my babies until 14 months – with no expressing or bottles I (sleepily) embraced this sleep deprived aspect of motherhood, feeding my darlings on demand as much as they needed whilst Mr R slept. My daughter L thankfully turned out to be just like me: she has always slept for at least 12 hours each night, starting to sleep for 9 hours at 9 weeks old and progressing quickly from then onwards. Since then like me she’s always been extremely precious about her sleep.
I also am now in my office by 8am, so that I can finish work earlier and spend more time with my children. This means leaving the house and being alert before 7am, something I never thought possible even a few years ago!
In 2007 I met Mr R. He continues to astound me in so many ways. Perhaps the most impressive one for me has always been how surprisingly well he deals with small amounts of sleep. He has therefore also always coped spectacularly with my duvet pathetic state (along with my many other ridiculousnesses), only groaning about it occasionally.
Prior to our having kids this meant Mr R would often be awake long before me, sorting our laundry and our plans. I have hazy memories of us taking it in turns to make each other breakfast when we were first together. My efforts were either less elaborate or much more brunch-timed affairs.
Post-kids, everyone knows that sleep is one of those things you inevitably lose a significant amount of. Not just when they are newborns but for years and years afterwards. And then some more years after that. Friends insist that their children sleep in or are at least pretty self-sufficient first thing. But at least two of my children are built more like their Dad and are awake (and so rather demanding) from 6am. This of course does not sit well with my need for duvet patheticness and has meant that, other than the rare occasions Mr R has been away, he is their primary caregiver 6am-8am. Or earlier if needed.
Occasionally – not often enough Mr R would say – I feel more guilty about this than usual and insist he lie in, and I will give the kids breakfast etc. But whenever I do so, afterwards Mr R complains how awful he feels having had “too much sleep” (how is that even possible?!), that it gives him a headache. He then begrudgingly acknowledges our different sleep demands and his inevitable early morning role in our frantic but wonderful lives.
Why am I writing about his now? Well here we are on a 9 hour 45 minute day flight to Mexico. I’m sitting next to the youngest two of our fabulous three. And what do I do? I try and force myself not to but I can feel my eyes start closing. Before I know it the eye mask and neck pillow have come out and within seconds I’m fast asleep. For two hours. My poor, amazing Mr R doesn’t complain but just gets on with the multiple requests and toilet demands which looking after our three children long haul inevitably entails. He’s used to my sleepy state after 12 years together but this is surely beyond what he’s willing to put up with. Apparently not. Mr R kindly lets me sleep, helping the children as needed and generally being a martyr to my duvet pathetic cause.
A bizarre occurrence you might think given that I’ve said this was a day flight. But I’m a great traveller and must have already adjusted my body clock – after all, it was 5am Mexican time when we left the UK!
Thank you my amazing Mr R, sleep provider to your duvet pathetic wife!