There is a reason why isolation is used as a form of punishment. It really messes with your head.
Ask any parent awake at 2am.
When you hear that first cry awaken you – a gentle plea for comfort; a territorial demand for a nipple; the frightened scream not yet fully awake; or my personal favourite right now – the painful moaning of a sick Spawnling just wanting their mum.
No matter the sound, you’re awake. And your praying to whichever deity is awake with you to make this session short.
It’s dark outside. Really dark. The kind of dark that makes you question if this is the end of the world. But it’s not.
So you go through the motions. Check nappy. Change nappy. Cuddle. Feed.
Except … She doesn’t go back to sleep. Not even close.
Don’t do it… No, don’t… Don’t look outside… Noooo
Aw crap. It’s still dark outside.
And then it hits – the wave of loneliness.
You could ask your Partner In Crime for help. But there is a feeling of guilt stopping you – they have to go to work in the morning, and only one parent-zombie at any given time. Ridiculous – of course they would help. But this is 2.30am. The Dungeon of Ridiculous.
Change sides. Cuddle. Feed. Yawn so wide you could swallow your ears.
Please go to sleep. My eyes are watering from fatigue, baby. Why are you punishing me?
I am the only one awake right now.
I am all alone.
No. You’re not.
You can’t see it, But on the other side of the street is a dad with a 6mth old, changing their nappy for the 3rd time this hour – more desperation for that to be the reason rather than anything else.
In the apartment block behind you, a new mum with a 4wk old cannot remember the “routine” for getting bubs back to sleep.
And down the road, is a 10yo with full-sensory nightmares who is scared of waking his older brother because he has exams tomorrow.
You are not alone. It feels like it because that is the most mind-fucking punishment that works. And these spawnlings are good.
But sometimes we need reminding. And it’s hard. When you are so tired, and so frustrated and you feel so alone…
You are not alone. Your child is there with you. And the sun will rise again.