Sleep: The Unattainable Dream

I’ve been gambling with sleep for awhile now. I hadn’t realized how much I intentionally did so, until I gave birth to another child. At that point, sleep became a gift I no longer controlled.

bed cute dog female
Photo by Pixabay on

And I missed it.


Oh, my missing it didn’t happen right away. First, I snapped at everyone. Then, I cried. I cried a lot. Next, I snapped and cried. Everyone and everything was wrong wrong wrong. Couldn’t they see how much the mess and my feelings were their fault??

So, I made sleep a priority. I snuck in naps wherever I could, even at the expense of cleaning. To help block out the light and sound of no one else sleeping, I set a pillow over my head. I set my phone’s timer for 45 minutes so I wouldn’t nap too long -then I’d often sleep another hour after it went off.

girl in white sweater lying on couch
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Slowly, slowly, the world wasn’t so horribly awful.

Actually; the world brightened up right away. It stayed bright once the newborn baby slept better and I could get sleep more consistently.

Hormones also play a HUGE role, of course. I need to remind myself of that as well. Sleep alone, however, was and is helpful enough that I highly recommend it.

If you are in The Newborn Phase, The Teething Phase, or even The Have Children Phase; don’t get caught in the trap of insomnia like me. Step back and take inventory of how many trips to deep REM you’re taking. There’s only so many times you can neglect your health, so many cups of coffee you can drink.

Trust me. Zzzzzzzz

selective focus photo of woman in blue tank top and shorts lying on a hammock
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

©2020 Chelsea Owens

*As a parting note, there are way too many stock photos of women ‘sleeping’ in full makeup. That is gross, and no one actually does that.

Make Time for Yourself (A Parenting Myth)

“Make time for yourself” is my second-favorite parenting advice. It comes right after “Enjoy the moment and don’t stress about the little things like housework, etc.”


The problem with making time is that I haven’t achieved that superpower yet. The problem is that, last time I checked, there are still 24 hours in each day. The problem is that I have to care for the physical and emotional needs of human beings and the house they live in during 56 of those 24 hours. I’m already over-booked.

This topic came up tonight in our couples conversation time -you know, another thing I need to make time for. My husband said I am accruing a deficit by working when the children are in bed. He suggested that time ought to be for winding down; working on things that make me happy.

I felt I had enough supporting argument in the unmade bed we sat upon, surrounded by the unsorted laundry, near the still-whispering children we’d sired. He did not.

Half an hour of discussion later and we were no closer to resolution.

So, what do you think? How expensive is a time-stopper on eBay anyway?


Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Take Time for You. Ish.

This evening was a monumental event in my life, marking another finger on the one hand that can count how many times I’ve left the house and gone to something without ALL THE KIDS.

Between cost, cost, cost, and cost; I just haven’t been able to justify a lot of me time. Like, ever.

And, despite what I said about going without kids, I actually went with two of them. They’re older now, so it’s almost like a date. -Though not in a weird way.

But see? That’s the problem. I have a lot of Mom Guilt about anything I do. If I do something, it needs to not cost a lot. It needs to not traumatize the kids. It needs to be with my husband. It needs to, in short, be worth more than the anxiety of all those worries.

So, when I finally get out, I most often choose an event that is free and/or one to which the offspring may also come. I pat myself on the back for culturally enlightening them, even though I had to hiss at them to Get back in your seat and Stop poking each other and For the love of everything holy will you please stop making noise??

Today, then, is the advice that I am not so great at following:

Seriously, go to something with just you.


At least once a year, okay?


Photo Credit:


©2019 Chelsea Owens

Selfish Selflessness

Being a mother is like being between a rock and a hard place, especially if the rock is a petrified piece of carpet food and the hard place is the mother of all Lego bricks.


We live a daily life of conflicting messages:

Cuddle your child but don’t smother him.

Teach your children to stick up for themselves but to be kind.

Help them understand that feelings and emotions are healthy, yet don’t psychologically screw them up by being anything but upbeat.

Know where they are so they don’t get mugged; why are you such a helicopter parent?

Spread out the responsibility of the chores but do not demand too much of your offspring.

Maintain a schedule but be a fun mom.

Put the husband, children, house, pets, and community as the first priority; make sure you spend time on you.

We feel the need to be selfless -no!- we are forced into selflessness that very instant the baby is out and cannot even live without minute-by-minute care. The bond of servitude begins forming as the baby does, but is shackled in place upon his birth.

Whether a mother is a good mother or not; she is, henceforth and forever, tied to another soul.

This arrangement wouldn’t be so bad if we were more like other mammals. Horses are full-grown by about age four. The blue whale comes in a bit longer at 10 years old.

We’re not going to talk about the elephants ’cause they have it worse than we do.


The point is that we maintain this forever selfless connection up till our child is grown and out of the nest. Even then, we stick around to help move furniture or post bail. Understandably, mothers are not able to be more selfish. If we are, we feel guilty for it.

What if your insecure teenage daughter runs away while you’re at a party with adult friends? What if you let your son ride his bike to the theater, only to learn that he crashed and is calling you from the hospital? What if a nosy neighbor calls Child Protective Services because your escaping toddler made it down the block to the park again? And, what if your husband cheats on you with his younger, more fun, unattached coworker while you were swimming in this selfless bubble he helped place you in?

See what I mean? Rock and hard place. They’re not some sort of yin-yang thing, you know.

I wish I had an easy answer for anyone feeling this way, but I don’t. I’ve been able to spend more time on me this past year, but that is primarily due to my children growing older and us having enough money to try counseling services and emotional doctoring.

do have practical steps you can take; the ones I’ve tried for the last two years:

  1. First, I joined a young mother’s group at a local Christian church. They referenced some religious topics but mostly strove to be somewhere for moms to go and be supported.
  2. I also started personal counseling. Not far into it, I started marital counseling with my husband. Both have been vital.
  3. I looked into a few emotional health concerns by trying hormones. A regular doctor advised against continuing with some, but what I learned about vitamins and hormone balance was useful.
  4. Every day for nearly 9 months, I exercised.
  5. I made appointments with people for specific days we would go out to lunch. Sometimes I paid and sometimes they did.
  6. I visited a real, live person at least once a week.
  7. I started a blog, and wrote every day. I started a second blog to discuss what was bugging me (you are reading it).
  8. Through what we’ve learned in counseling, I have asked for what I need and tried not to feel guilty taking it. My husband has toned down his disapproving looks and stepped right up when I ask.
  9. I’ve made life goals and told myself I will achieve them.
  10. I’ve made a list of ten things I did to help combat the impotent feelings of motherhood.

If you are feeling trapped between carpet food and Lego-hood, don’t give up. Things really do get better, as cliché as that sounds. Try my list or make your own. If you can do nothing else, I encourage anyone and everyone to find a good counselor and do what s/he says.

Get out of your rut and take control of the direction of your life, and I will too.


Photo Credit:
Aleks Dahlberg
Casey Allen

Good Mom, Bad Mom

Fruit Pie

One time, my neighbor stopped by to give me something. In these times of internet-everythinging, visits are not such a common occurrence. She caught us right when we’d returned from the grocery store and all the children were enjoying a fruit pie snack.

She made some comment about how I was “such a fun mom” to let them eat the sugar-glazed, berry-filled, envelope of sugar. She was surprised, thinking I was usually strict about the kids’ diets.

am strict, because I don’t want them to develop diabetes or -more likely- hyperactivity.

HOWEVER, every kid needs to try a snack pie. I also buy them weird Oreo flavors or chocolate Lucky Charms or Twinkie Weiner Sandwiches -randomly, to try once. This makes me a good mom.

Then, at bedtime, exasperation sets in. I’m sarcastic, rude, stressed, unkind, impatient, and loud about trying to get them in bed. I’m even worse when they will not STAY in bed.

At times like that, I’m bad mom.


“Let’s go to insert random location,” I say, and we pile into the car and drive to IKEA, the world’s largest Costco, the Pepperidge Farm outlet, a splash pad, a park, or a relative’s house.

The children smile and get along. They love the spontaneity and their happy maternal parent. Things are good.

But, sure enough, all good things must come to an end.

“Time to go,” I say. I say it again, and again. I threaten, snap, threaten, pick up shoes, pick up boys, deny “last times,” and ask them if they really need to go to the bathroom if they went when we first arrived.

Bad mom’s back, and she means business.

I feel a bit torn. Am I good mom, or bad? I’d really rather be firm but loving, but that fantastical plan flies out the window the instant they shoot me point-blank with a Nerf gun.

Does anyone else relate? What can we do?