Family, Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Parenting, Relationship and marriage, Writing

Sleep School

‘It’s a myth! Totally baseless and unproven,’ Karen cries. She heaves herself off the sofa and moves into my kitchen. Opening the fridge door, I hear the wine bottle scrape against the shelf as she pulls it out. She unscrews the lid, looks over at me and says, ‘Wanna ‘nother glass?’

This is her way of shutting down the topic. Her M.O.

Karen and I have been friends since uni. We met in first year, clicked like Lego pieces and by the time second year rolled around, we decided to move in together. Our search for a house was over in a blink: we found a two-bedroom apartment right on the train line for easy access to the CBD, but also walking distance to uni. Our part-time jobs and study allowance would cover the rent and utilities, and we’d survive on two-minute noodles like every other uni student who’d gone before us.

Now, fifteen years later, we are still inseparable, albeit living with our own partners and children. Karen comes to my place every Friday, with her two-month old baby, as Tim, her husband, works overnight. Karen and Saskia generally sleep over and each Saturday morning, Tim arrives with croissants and coffee. It’s nice. Comfortable.

She walks to me with two glasses of wine. As she holds out my glass, I continue, determined not to let her end this discussion. ‘It’s not a myth! How can you ignore the research on this?’ My voice sounds harsher than I intend.

I take a sip, let her process my rebuke.

‘It’s all about building resilience,’ I say, holding up my hand when I notice she’s about to protest.

‘She’s a baby! How can they possibly need to be taught resilience?’ Her face is flushed, glowing red. I’m not sure if she’s angry or drunk. Probably both.

‘I can only tell you what I’ve seen in Scarlett and Leo, after Andy and I brought it into our routine.’

‘Yeah, yeah, I know you’ve told me,’ she says. Her teeth are clenched. ‘Christ, you sound the maternal health nurse!’ She gulps the last of her wine. ‘I’m going to bed.’

‘OK,’ I respond. ‘The spare room’s ready for you. Night.’ I kiss her cheek. She’s never been one to argue a point with, especially when there’s alcohol and passion involved.

Alone in the living room, the quiet of the night filling my ears, I drink my wine slowly. I flick through a magazine as I ponder Karen and her resistance to research on sleep patterns in infants. Once I drain my glass, I wander into Scarlett and Leo’s rooms and kiss them on their foreheads. We’re all passionate about our children, and we all want the best for them. I decide in the morning to apologise; just because I believe in the strategy, doesn’t mean Karen has to. She has a right to raise her child however she sees fit.

I slide into bed next to Andy. He stirs and turns into me. ‘Hi honey,’ he murmurs. ‘Everything OK?’

‘Yep. All good.’

I snuggle in to Andy, grateful and happy. Life is truly good.


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