I’m currently talking with a contractor to build me something special. Something that will have more uses than it appears from the outside. Something that will cost our vacation budget for the next three years and the only person who will benefit will be me. Something that will either kill or save our marriage. I’m having a studio built in the backyard. Not for art or scrapbooking or music, a studio for sleep.
You see, I have a very small house and two very loud teenagers and a husband who snores despite undergoing a very painful procedure to eliminate snoring. And you know what? I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over 17 years. Do you know what that does to a person?! How many nights have I laid in bed wide awake and resenting my husband snoring blissfully. That man could sleep through a train running through our living room. How many nights have I been woken up at 6 am by a teenager who thinks she needs to wash, deep condition, blow dry, and straighten her hair, and apply an hour’s worth of make up Every. Damn. Day? Yeah, you guessed it- Every. Damn. Day. How many times have I laid in bed listening to my son chat over his video game, sometimes, ok often screaming into the headset? Yeah, that’s daily too. Plus the chair squeaks and the midnight snacks. Oh and the cat who likes to sing the songs of his people at 3 am.
I didn’t sleep when I was pregnant. I didn’t sleep with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. By the time the kids actually started to sleep I’d already logged about six years of sleeplessness. I was a wreck. I’d nap whenever the house was quiet, which wasn’t often enough. I’ve contemplated selling my home and taking on an extra half million dollars in debt to buy a bigger house, but that’s crazy. I’ve contemplated divorce and realized it’s just the exhaustion. I’ve contemplated going to a hotel at 11 pm about a dozen times in the last year. Earplugs, you say? You really think a little foam tampon is going to make a difference when the walls are paper thin? It doesn’t. White noise machine? Tried it, that thing irritates the shit out of me more than the sound of my husband breathing. There’s only one logical solution: I need to sleep somewhere else on a regular basis.
A few years ago I started taking vacations by myself. Do you know how magically blissful it is to sleep when you want to sleep, without interruption? It’s pretty darn amazing. So the original plan was to take over the eldest child’s bedroom when she moves to college. But let’s be real, I can’t wait that long. It’s only 18 months but I can’t wait. And it the boy will still keep me up. Dang it, I can’t run away from this. Or can I? The whole tiny house thing is quite the trend. The backyard is small but there’s a little spot by the fence where I could fit one. I wonder what they cost? It turns out that they cost a lot. So I got to thinking, something that is hard to do when you are exhausted but easy to do when you are wide awake staring at the ceiling and feeling your blood pressure climb. I just need a quiet place to sleep before I lose what’s left of my very tired mind. So what if I build a studio that is nothing more than a bed, a light, and a heater? And what if that becomes my bedroom?
I told him it would double as a guest room, something we don’t have but need. I told him the kids could use it for sleepovers and wouldn’t we be just the coolest parents? My husband thinks I’m nuts. He doesn’t understand, that guy sleeps anywhere. I think he’s more concerned that his sex life will be over if I go sleep in a shed in the backyard. Plus I think he’s a little concerned that I’m crazy enough to sleep in a shed in the backyard. And what are the neighbors going to say if they find out the pretty new shed is actually his wife’s bedroom? What if I go out there and I never come back? On second thought, maybe I should budget for a bathroom and kitchen….
Leslie is a mother of two teens from Delta, BC, Canada, who has just launched a business as a birth doula while she patiently waits for a seat in the Midwifery program at UBC. She fully acknowledges that this career is going to lead to more sleepless nights but that’s ok, she’s used to them now! She’s hoping that her children take career paths that allow them to move out before they turn 30 and then she can go keep them up all night long in their house.