Nothing makes me happier than when my children come to visit.
And fall asleep.
They don’t even have to say hello.
“I’m just going to close my eyes for a few minutes,” my son says as he makes his way from the front door to the couch in the living room, where “a few minutes” becomes an hour.
Clearly a catch-up chat is also a desire of the day when my adult kids come for a visit. I can never have enough face time with them.
Meanwhile, I know that like the rest of us, they are exhausted. The pandemic and post-pandemic stress of COVID, the overstimulation of information and just plain old anxiety from living in these uncertain times have prompted the U.S. Center for Disease Control to estimate that more than one in three adults have chronic sleep disorders.
As for millennials in particular, what with bedrooms turned into remote offices equipped with Zoom, LED-studded podcasts, and in some cases a child’s nursery, their lives especially seem full of anything but REM.
Which is why I’d rather let them sleep than fill me in on the details, which is why I delight in standing in the doorway of the living room, watching their eyelids grow heavy, their face go soft as a baby’s, and their breathing slow to the rhythm of a sloth.
For one brief moment, I rest easy, too while this busy child of mine gets what his body needs, and in the comfort of his mama’s home.
Of course, the irony is: My kids fall sleep easier in this house now than they did as young children.
I was one of those mothers who could not tolerate a baby crying himself to sleep, who tried every iteration in the parenting books to help him go to sleep and stay there.
With my firstborn, reading and singing did the trick. But only temporarily. Even if Chris was sound asleep, if he saw us leave the room after we’d read “Good Night Moon,” “Guess How Much I Love You?” and “Love You Forever,” he’d wake up and start crying. We learned to crawl out of his room on our bellies like snakes to keep him from seeing us, which he eventually caught on to.
Likewise, second-born Emily had to be said good night to multiple times. I’d say good night. I’d leave the room. She’d call me back for water. Or because she forgot to tell me something. Or because she didn’t like the scratchy tag on her PJs. She, too, had to be fully asleep and fully comforted before I could leave.
As for the third child, we finally gave up and went with the family bed, aka he slept with us. Contrary to what some sleep gurus think about babies sleeping with Mom, he learned to sleep through the night much faster than the other two.
Somehow they all ended up learning to sleep through the night.
And now they are modern millennials living in an age of 24/7, wherein an entire sleep industry — or two — is devoted to getting them to sleep again, by way of sleep aids like black-out curtains and sleep monitors.
The latest is a tape you put over your mouth to encourage nose-breathing, which is supposed to be better for sleeping.
There’s even a new trend in vacations they’re calling “sleep tourism” whereby the primary focus is better sleep via spa treatments, pillow choices and workshops led by naturopaths, nutritionists and psychologists.
I’ve got news for all of them.
The key to getting quality shut-eye without spending a lot of money: Mama’s couch.
Just come home.
And hey, I just might get a nap in, too.
Debra-Lynn B. Hook of Kent, Ohio, has been writing about family life since 1988. Visit her website at www.debralynnhook.com; email her at [email protected], or join her column’s Facebook discussion group at Debra-Lynn Hook: Bringing Up Mommy.