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Dear Suckmeisters and Jerks, I Am Talking to You

I brought Ben to the doctor for the second time this week. The first time he wasn’t quite sick enough for long enough. The second time, this morning, he had an ear infection, sinus infection and probably strep, but we didn’t swab his throat because the treatment would be the same regardless of the result.

When we got to the doctor, we parked close to the door, and as we walked side by side up the walk a woman brushed past us. Upon catching up to her at the door, she hustled up to the desk of the first come, first served walk in clinic.

Sigh.

She had symptoms of influenza and leaned on the desk to complete the paperwork, which took several minutes because she had gotten married and changed jobs. She coughed all over the check in desk the whole time.

I had my own pen out and jotted Ben’s name on the sign in sheet without resting my hands or arms on the desk and sanitized as soon as I was done.

For the record, our check in took less than 30 seconds.

It’s not actually a big deal I suppose, that this woman set us back a few minutes, unless, of course, she left some airborne influenza hanging around for us to bring home. But I’m annoyed, and though I told myself to just get over it, since she might have had a reason for her behavior or a bad day (besides the reason she was there), of which I was unaware.

But the fact remains that she was rude.

And if it costs us a case of influenza, much more than just rude.

When you’re an intentionally polite person, it can feel like your kindness exists in a vacuum. I go through life trying to put others first by being thoughtful and courteous at every possible occasion, but there are days, like when I’m tired from caring for my sick little dude and concerned about his wellness, that my reserves run low. It’s at those times when the thoughtfulness of others is especially appreciated, and the lack thereof especially apparent.

The kindness in the world needs to be recognized and amplified, and by and large that is my focus. However, I think I would be remiss to completely avoid calling out the suckmeisters. The people who take care of themselves first while showing little care for their impact on others.

I’m tired of the suckmeisters.

Both small time like this woman, and in the bigger sense, I’m just over it. Maybe this was an isolated incident for this woman and I should give her grace. Maybe she had already had more than she could take for the day by 8 am and didn’t have the emotional reserves to show a little consideration. But chances are that she was just being a jerk. This world is hard enough to navigate most days without having to work around the suckmeisters and jerks.

So do the world a favor, do what your preschool teacher taught you, and say “excuse me”, and don’t cut in line. The world works better for everyone, including you, when you wait your turn and be polite. Assume that the next person is just as important and valuable as you, and that they have needs too. And when you blow it, say you’re sorry.

In so doing you take a little of the suck out if the world and pay forward kindness, and kindness matters. It really does.

sleep

My Life With Super High Sleep Need

Looking back over the years, I cannot remember a time that I felt ready to face the day, any day, with less than 8 hours of sleep under my belt. And to be at my best, 9 (or more) is where it’s at.

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What a good night’s sleep looks like for me. (Early morning get ups courtesy of Ben).

I have high sleep need.

And in case you haven’t noticed, our society doesn’t exactly laud great sleepers. In fact, in an era when self-care is the topic du jour and we, especially women, and even more so mothers are aware of how important it is to fuel ourselves to avoid burnout, sleep is rarely a part of the conversation.

When you require significantly more sleep than average in a world where 60 hour work weeks and productivity rule, well, you can feel like a loser (at least I do).

It has taken awhile for me to reconcile the fact that I’m never going to be one of those people who can be productive late into the evening and then get up early the next morning and hit it hard again. There was never any all night cramming for exams because I knew my rest was much more crucial than a few hours of additional review. And at this point in life, when many parents have no problem staying up until midnight or later waiting for their teens to return for the night, I am long since in bed before my daughter rolls in at night.

I have learned, when vacationing or doing fun things, that if I let my FOMO (fear of missing out) trump my sleep it ends in disaster. More often than not it’s a real bummer to choose between dedicating well over a third of each day to slumber or spend the time you didn’t spend in bed feeling like dog meat.

I have long envied people who thrive on 6, 7 or even 8 full hours of sleep, and wondered if there was some kind of secret element I was missing that prevented me from doing more with less in the rest department. I played with essential oils and supplements, both for rest and for daytime wakefulness and wasted hundreds of dollar. I used caffeine to offset the effects of my less than adequate time in bed and wound up jittery but still groggy. I have experimented with pillows and mattresses, trying to find the Holy Grail of comfort that would somehow make my sleep more efficient so that less would feel like more.

Nothing, absolutely nothing is a sufficient substitute for 8, 9 (or even more) solid hours in bed.

At the ripe old age of 44, after living this way for as long as I can remember, it stands to reason that it won’t change any time soon.

At the end of the day, high sleep need is a part of me. In order to care for myself, I need to honor that, and as an ongoing effort at self-compassion, acknowledging this as who I am and letting go of the notion that needing sleep is something I can or should fix has been a bit of a paradigm shift toward self-acceptance. One that is (as with most things in my life) long overdue.

My path toward self-compassion has meant recognizing the many ways that I am not a round peg in a world where pegs don’t work unless they are round. It means accepting where I don’t fit typical expectations, and refusing to frame that as any type of failure or inadequacy. It means that rather than finding ways around the ways that I am different or quirky, that I will respect who I am and how I am made, and accommodate my needs rather than suppress or ignore them. In other words, I’m finally doing for myself what I have naturally done for my children for years.

This is what it takes for me to thrive, and doggone it, I deserve to thrive.

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This is what it takes for me to thrive.