Saturday, June 3, 2017

Jet Lag Is Awesome

It’s 5:05 AM.  I’m awake.  I love jet lag.  No, really!  We just crossed the ocean for the 8th time in 5 years.  We started doing this when our boys were 3 and 1 1/2 and I was expecting Lu.  Jet lag was brutal back then.  It was a slow, painful suffering that didn’t quite finish you off but kept you on the verge of a mental or emotional breakdown for about 2 weeks.  That’s because we were completely switching over.  Our day was becoming our night and vice versa.  Our kids, however, couldn’t see this logically.  Their little bodies told them that night was day and wanted a drink, a snack, a toy, a good fit and crying session, right in the middle of the night.  We would spend the majority of the night trying to get one child to bed only to have the other one wake with a different request.

There was no chance for our bodies to adjust before our kids’ bodies adjusted.  That meant that we spent our nights trying to get them to sleep and our days trying to keep them awake.  They would whine and fall apart when we were trying to get our bearings in a new place or reconnect with our family after months apart.  It was their night and they wanted to sleep.  Every interaction and experience was intensified with one little truth.  Jet Lag.

Also, jet lag was coupled with the fact that I usually had absolutely no sleep for about 48 hours every time we made that crossing.  I had 2-3 small children that needed lots of attention and help during those long flights.  They would usually complain quite a bit, need me to walk the isle with them when I was just about to nod off to sleep, or scream every time the plane took off or descended because of the pressure in their ears.  We dealt with spilled drinks all over their only clothes for the next 24 hours, changing dirty diapers in the airplane restroom -- if you’ve ever struggled managing your own toilet in one of those closets, imagine changing a blowout with a squirmy toddler!  Then there were the all-out fits in the airports.  I can remember trips where every airport was a new meltdown.  We had to spank kids in some of the world’s most prestigious airport bathrooms.  Chris would manage the carry-ons while I tried to keep 3 toddlers from losing it in front of foreign dignitaries and security personnel.  Always an adventure!

So, ‘Why do you love jet lag?’ you may be asking me.  Well, for the first time, I’m experiencing what most people mean when they say “jet lag.”  We just had the first ocean crossing without a single meltdown.  We just had the first ocean crossing where I wasn’t changing diapers.  We just had the first ocean crossing where all my kids kept their drinks in their cups and not on their clothes -- even though I was prepared with changes of clothes this time because of previous experience!  I actually got about 4 total hours of sleep in that 48 hours.  I think some people would complain about that number, but I was rejoicing.  International travel is really no big deal when your kids can quietly watch movies and will take a nap when you tell them to.  So, we arrived to Chris’ parents’ open arms tired, but happy.  Not the emotionally distraught and sleep deprived wretch I’ve felt like on previous occasions.

We arrived in the morning and pushed through, trying to stay awake until night time so our bodies could switch.  We made it until 7 PM.  Then, I lay me down to sleep knowing that I probably had a long night ahead of me.  At 2 AM I woke up to use the bathroom and didn’t hear any noise coming from the kids’ room.  I laid down again, figuring I wouldn’t be able to fall back to sleep, only to wake up at 5:30 to the sound of the kids happily playing in their bedroom.

WHAT?  Oh, maybe Grandma and Grandpa woke up and were spending time with them.  We went in.  Nope.  Our kids were playing by themselves . . . entertaining themselves . . . on purpose!  As Abe said, “I thought I’d go and snuggle Grandpa, but I didn’t want to disturb him.”  Didn’t want to disturb him??  Who are these paramount examples of childhood servant hearts?  They’re mine!!!  Jed and Abe and Lucy managed midnight bathroom trips, finding blankets that had gotten lost, changing beds to make everyone more comfortable, and entertaining themselves in the early morning without waking any of the adults.  Then, they played happily through the day with minimal incident and fell contentedly back to sleep again last night.  I’d say we’re in a new phase, but that’s an understatement.  I feel like we’ve inadvertently slipped into another level of the multiverse.

So, this time, I’ve been groggy starting around 2 PM.  I’ve wished I could nap and made myself stay awake.  I’ve woken in the night and had trouble falling back to sleep.  This is jet lag.  Jet lag is awesome.  I am completely thrilled at this realization.

Abe after our first jet lag experience.

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