Home > Books, Parenting > ‘Gosh Darn It, Go To Sleep Already’ Just Doesn’t Have the Same Ring

‘Gosh Darn It, Go To Sleep Already’ Just Doesn’t Have the Same Ring

My timing is always off. By the time I was done with strollers, luxury all-terrain vehicles were gliding past me on trails. When I was done with maternity clothes, everyone from Michael Kors to Old Navy were in the business, and the tents of my gestation were replaced with sleek skinny jeans. So it was no surprise that I happened across a parenting book that finally spoke to me, just as my children are leaving their glorified toddler years: Go the F*** To Sleep, by Adam Mansbach.

The storm of controversy that followed its release occurred months ago, but I am not particularly well versed in news that doesn’t constitute traffic and weather. In keeping with my poor timing, I’m wading in.

This brilliant book perfectly chronicles every night of my life for the past twelve years. And if you happen to be one of those people who say to me, “Oh, I never have any trouble getting my child to sleep.” Or worse, one of those parents who coo, “My baby has slept through the night since the day we brought her home.” Or someone who has an endless amount of patience, or a prude, then this book isn’t for you.

But for the rest of us mortals, who labour each day to clothe and feed children whose limbs don’t want to be covered and whose mouths don’t wish to devour nutrients; bedtime is a ritual which puts us tantalizingly close to the person we once were, yet hovers out of reach as our children put us through a marathon bedtime session. By the time I’ve finished with the agonizing task, I’ve not only put my children to bed, but myself as well.  The carefree, fun-loving interesting person I was before I became a nag remains in hibernation.

You see, the idea of laying down with my offspring to quietly whisper words of wisdom from Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, or Sandra Boynton, until their eyelids droop shut and I tiptoe out of their bedroom sounds magical, but rarely ends with the ‘eyelids drooping’ detail. Every night starts this way, but ends up with me wearing down the carpet between their bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen as I go through the motions of appeasing their every whim and desire they can come up with in order for their eyelids to remain wide open.

I approach each night with both a sassy verve and forlorn sense of hope that tonight, by God, will be different. Tonight my children will not beg for one more book, one more hug, one more snack, one more bathroom trip, or complain of growing pains or monsters under their beds or being hot or cold. Each night I am disappointed.

I come by this honestly. Eating and sleeping were not my strong points as a child – singing and dancing, yes, basics of life –  not so much. I remember fighting sleep with every scrawny scrap of my being, so I’m particularly good at empathizing for the first twenty minutes of nocturnal attempts. After that, my patience fades and is replaced by fury. As Adam Mansbach suggests so eloquently, “A hot crimson rage fills my heart, love. For real, shut the f*** up and sleep.”

From the fury, I typically spiral down to self-loathing and personal failure, which again is perfectly and poetically encapsulated in one line: “My life is a failure. I’m a shitty-ass parent. Stop f***ing with me, please, and sleep.”

Like any book worth its salt, and life itself, it doesn’t have a tidy or neat ending, but a more realistic one that is repeated in my household – even still – on a nightly basis.

I weep with love for my children as they lay sprawled in their beds or curled around their teddy bears. I breathe in their sweet aroma and fall in love with them all over again at the sight. But getting them to that spent state takes indefatigable stamina that I can barely muster, night after f***ing night, and finally some angel of mercy has recognized this.

Adam Mansbach, I never seem to bump into parents like you, but wish I did. Thanks for keeping it real, and giving us something to laugh about – it sure beats screaming in isolation. This book is like a giant, group hug for parents who, in pursuit of smooth bedtime transitions, taste defeat nightly.

  1. December 5, 2011 at 2:28 am

    I’m so glad to see you write about this. I had considered getting the book for my brother and sister-in-law, but haven’t as of yet. Now I may have to run out and buy it tomorrow. This is truly a brilliantly written review. LOVE IT! Thanks, Deanna. Hope you’ve had a great weekend and the kids get the f*ck to sleep more easily tonight—————-

  2. December 5, 2011 at 3:39 am

    The days of laying in my child’s bed trying to get the little f-cker to sleep are long gone. Instead, she lays in her bed watching Good Luck Charlie until her eyes pop out. Dr. said that my children needed less sleep and it was natural – FOR WHOM!!>? He said they would probably be smarter because they would have received more stimulus – SO WHAT!! I wanted them to be dumbarse kids who slept! I needed my sleep…..this post and book speak to me even after all these years….thanks for sharing!

  3. December 5, 2011 at 3:41 am

    It’s an awesome book. When I first discovered it, what feels like ages ago, it was just so perfectly representative of the exasperation bedtime can cause. It just felt good to have it put into perspective and to be able to laugh about it. 😉

  4. manitiou
    December 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Amen sister. Have not read the book, finally passed the stage also….could have used it during my decade of hell sleep.

  5. December 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I remember telling Tom I’d like to call and harass every woman who made me scared of pregnancy and labor. When that phase happened without major injury, I figured the worst was over. They all forgot to tell me about the never sleeping again part. A warning might’ve been nice is all 🙂

    • January 6, 2012 at 3:33 am

      Seriously – and let me be the one to tell you the sleeping issues can last a loooooooooong time!

  6. Jennifer Worrell
    March 27, 2012 at 2:24 am

    I just peed myself–hysterical. Anyway, I’m such a sh*tty parent. I just left ’em upstairs screaming and put in my iPod. I mean, if they’re fed, watered, their little butts are clean, you’ve read fifty books, and all the scary monsters have been blessed away, what else the hell are you supposed to do? They’ll get sick of screaming and go to sleep eventually, right? RIGHT?!@#!?

    • March 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Bedtime really is a tough cross to bear – I hate hearing about those kids who fall asleep before their head hits the pillow, life’s just not fair.

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