So, I can think back to a few key times in life where I have totally disregarded all signs that my body was sending me about my own physical limits. Things like summer camp, my first Backstreet Boys concert, finals week in college, and having a baby are all on the list because with each of them, pretty much every part of me was screaming “slow down, stop, take a break, sleep,” but I was like, “Hell no, body, let’s do this. #YOLO til the end of time.”
However, of that collection of events, the two that have the most in common are the last two, finals week and parenthood. Now, I realize that those two things aren't compared very frequently, but I see now that there is actually some serious overlap. In addition to the physically strenuous aspects of both, there is a strange mental place where we all go during both experiences: We are trying to learn as much as possible while also maintaining our chill and not thinking at all about how the next few days have a major impact on the rest of our lives. No pressure, guys.
Let’s take a closer look at two of these particular experiences, shall we? Here’s all the things they have in common:
You Are Not Sleeping
With A Newborn: Your sleep deprivation is a result of the need to wake-up and feed your young human every couple hours, and to stare lovingly/cautiously at them while they sleep and you count their breaths.
During Finals Week: You’re staying up to study/express deep regret over not studying during regular daylight hours every other chance you had.
You Are Putting Something Else Above Your Well-Being
With A Newborn: Your tiny person relies on you for all of their basic needs, including but not limited to food, shelter, clothing, and the introduction to Justin Bieber’s slow jams (played at a soft, soothing level, obviously).
During Finals Week: Your need to earn passing grades rivals only your need to breath and as long as you're doing that, you're going to keep going.
Bathing Is No Longer A Priority
With A Newborn: You’ll get to it tomorrow or maybe in a couple days or maybe next week.
During Finals Week: Same.
Your Personal Nutrition Is On The Backburner
With A Newborn: You remember to eat when visitors come over and bring you food, and you only know you’re supposed to drink when the unquenchable thirst from hell strikes seconds after your newborn latches on.
During Finals Week: You remember to eat when your roommates tell you that they're about to eat. And then, it's usually something that comes out of cellophane.
You Make Poor Time Management Decisions
With A Newborn: While the baby sleeps, you know you should try to squeeze in a nap but instead it feels much more relevant and important to read and re-read the same message boards you’ve already read that discuss the color and consistency of baby poo.
During Finals Week: After 14 consecutive hours of studying, you can no longer take responsibility for your actions, which include but are not limited to, binge-watching the entire fourth season of Friends whilst eating a whole box of macaroni and cheese.
Coffee Is Terribly Important To You, Even More Than Usual
With A Newborn: If you’re anything like me, you are drinking it every chance you get for a semblance of normalcy and routine. Regardless of whether or not you’re breastfeeding and paying attention to your caffeine intake, you are often found with a cup of 2-hour-old coffee in your hand. Not that you don't want to drink it, you just haven’t managed to do so yet because baby.
During Finals Week: If you’re anything like me, you’re drinking it every chance you get because if you don’t, your exhaustion will render you completely useless.
You're Relying On Technology
With A Newborn: Without a computer with which to look things up, a phone to text your partner, or a breast pump to save your life, you would be a complete mess.
During Finals Week: Without a laptop that allows you to study while horizontal, you would be a complete mess.
Naps, All The Naps
With A Newborn: The occasional naps you are able to squeeze in are rarely on your bed. They’re on the couch, the floor, or face down on your kitchen table. Basically, in the immortal words of Shakira, you're napping "whenever, wherever."
During Finals Week: Um, why else are there 24-hour libraries on college campuses?
It Feels Like You’ll Be Stuck In This Endless Cycle For Eternity
With A Newborn: I remember holding out for the 6-week mark, when we were told that our son would start to resemble a person more than a sleepy blob of snuggles.
During Finals Week: Granted, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel during finals week, but it’s never, ever close enough.
It Feels Like THere Is Way More To Learn Than You Could Ever Possibly Learn
With A Newborn: Google is both your best friend and your worst enemy.
During Finals Week: After reviewing the material you’re supposed to know, you begin to question whether you attended class at all that term.
You Will Cry Way More Than You Care To Admit
With A Newborn: At least you can blame it on hormones.
During Finals Week: After staying awake for 48 hours straight and only eating Pop Tarts, there's just nothing else for you to do. It's OK, let it out.