I am, to use a term parents know well, a Terrible Sleeper. I do not nap. I sleep so very lightly that a breath of air will wake me. Truly, I wake up if the heater kicks on. Or off. I wake up if there’s a light or a noise or a child's footstep or a cry or even if, in my sleep, I divine that we’ve forgotten to turn on the ceiling fan. And if I physically get up, to go to the bathroom or check on a kid, I am then up for hours. I haven’t enjoyed uninterrupted sleep for years. It used to make me the really vigilant mom of babies; now it just makes me tired.
Lately, I’ve caught a cough from the preschoolers. I am rarely sick, so this cough has been a big pain in the butt. And it’s a yucky, my-chest-hurts cough that wakes me with coughing spasms every hour and a half at night. I’ve been more exhausted than ever, to the point of actually feeling sympathy for the toddler throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store. To the point of almost joining him.
So yesterday I had one kid at the doctor’s office and asked what I should take to sleep through the night.
He glanced around and then said, in a low voice, "The nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine." (Okay, he actually named it, but I can’t hear the name without singing the jingle. And now I bet you can name it. Excellent marketing, if you ask me.)
I looked at him in horror. "Why, doctor," I exclaimed, "that’s like shooting a mouse with an elephant gun! I fear that’s far too much medicine for my little cough." (Total lie. What I said was, "Will it kill me?" To which he replied, "Nah, probably not." Good enough. I went and bought some.)
I took it with trepidation. Seriously, who takes that, unless you’ve got every single symptom they list? I honestly thought if I ever took it, I’d be profiled on the news as the mom who overmedicated herself and never woke up. You’d all shake your heads and click your tongues and feel superior to me, the one who went with the low-rent, overkill medicine.
People. I am here to tell you that the nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine is THE GREATEST THING EVER. I didn’t make a sound. I didn’t roll over. Whit TALKED ON THE PHONE and I didn’t wake up. I didn’t cough or sneeze or probably even swallow. Apparently our bed was a literal train station: Jack came in, Whit moved over, Caroline came in, the bed got too crowded, Caroline left, Caroline got lonely and came in again to get Whit, Whit left to go sleep with her...I knew none of it! Pure bliss! There I lay, motionless, in the throes of the best sleep I’ve had in years. I probably got kicked and pushed and had the covers pulled off me, but guess what? Either I didn’t know or I didn’t care. I was in heaven.
So thank you, nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine. I may still be coughing today, but last night, I didn’t make a peep. My coughing apparatus was medicated into silence.
You were the best (and only) one-night-stand I’ve had in a while. I’m sorry I made fun of you and called you low-rent and thought you would actually put me in a coma. On the contrary, even if you did put me in a coma, it was a great coma. And, truth be told, you didn’t do a damn thing to actually get rid of my cough permanently, but you gave me a good night’s sleep, and coming from a tired mother, that is worth more than gold.
I’m sorry, but I no longer plan to be such a germophobe. A little cough every now and then is not a terrible thing if you’re there to help me.
But I won’t tell anyone. I don’t want there to be a run on the stuff in case my cough sticks around a while. Everyone else can stick with the plop plop fizz fizz product over the holidays, and I’ll keep mommy’s little green helper in the medicine cabinet.