Well, the suitcases are unpacked, the perishables in the freezer or hidden away from the DiploBoys, and the house is pretty much back to normal. It’s time for the ugly symptom of the expat life known as jet lag to rear its ugly head. Jet lag is a big reason I’m posting late this week, and it’s a big reason why I’m up writing this at 2:51 a.m. in my underwear and an old Firm t-shirt instead of sleeping. It’s probably a big reason why I even told you that.
I’ve had jet lag before, and I’ll have it again, but I have to say that nothing but nothing compares to the jet lag I’ve had when coming to India. For some reason, that ten-and-a-half hour time difference smacks down all other time differences like a mallet on a whack-a-mole board. I’m still working on figuring out the half-hour thing – if anyone has any insight, please let me know.
Jet lag for Europe was OK. Five, six hours seemed so manageable. Same for West Africa. Even the twelve-hour time difference for Hong Kong was better than this. I actually walked off a plane, showered, and went to work an hour or so later when I was in Hong Kong. I won’t say I made the best decisions that day, but I managed, and the days fell into place pretty easily, even for DB1 who was about three at the time.
Which brings me to another point. Being trapped at home during monsoon season with two jet-lagged children is akin to being locked in a funhouse with a bag of screaming chimpanzees. Probably. I’m thinking I’d rather opt for the chimps.
We tried to do it right this time. Upon arriving home Saturday, we unpacked perishables, brushed teeth, and hit the sack. It was nighttime, after all. 9ish. A perfectly decent hour to go to bed. The next morning, we all got up about 6 a.m. and I thought we were well on our way to heading it off. And then . . . around 2:30 p.m., I thought a nap sounded like an awesome idea. Like, a better than the polio vaccine, telephone, and chocolate fondue idea. It wasn’t.
The rest of the day was lost in a blur of sleep, waking, whining, and walking through the house dazed and insisting that we all had to try and go to bed at a normal hour. The DBs went to bed at about 4 p.m. They then woke up at midnight and proceeded to stay up until the next day watching those How to Train Your Dragon movies back-to-back. Twice. I’m thinking they didn’t even notice what was on the screen through their thousand-yard stare.
Monday, DiploDad crawled into work and I put out a yoga mat and did about 20 minutes of a YJ podcast with the dulcet tones of screaming dragons in the background. The “energizing sequence” worked pretty well. Until about 3 p.m. By this time, DB1 was lying on the couch staring into space and drooling, trying to stay awake and our helper, L, was poking DB2, telling him to not go to sleep. By 4 p.m., I’d given up and let everyone head to bed, me included. When DiploDad got home at 6 p.m. or so, I hauled myself out of bed, ate dinner, and then crawled back in. He was right behind me.
At 3 a.m., the entire household was up again. This time, the DBs were on to a Scooby Doo marathon. I was playing Zombie Mom, and DD was able to roll over and go back to sleep. The DiploDog was beside himself. Why on earth were these stupid humans up in the middle of the night and why are they too tired to take me out on schedule? We are lucky that he has a bladder of steel. And that we have a dog walker.
At 7 a.m., the yoga mat came out again and DD left for work. It was our anniversary, and so I made it through the day on excitement alone. I met my trainer, who had mercifully slotted me in for 10 a.m. instead of our usual late afternoon time. The DBs and V and I took it easy, reading, watching TV, and playing with LEGO. We managed to keep DB2 up until 6:30 and DB made it to 7 p.m. to say goodbye to us as we headed out. Dinner was at a local hotel restaurant called The Sahib Room, which I highly recommend. We were both actually awake and enjoying ourselves, but the minute we got in the elevator to our flat, we got another jet lag smackdown.
I looked over at DD and then into the mirror and I swear the bags under our eyes appeared during the time we went from the ground floor to ours. We stumbled into our flat, bid L goodbye and gave her taxi fare home, and dropped straight into bed. People, trust me – it is not comfortable to sleep in Spanx.
Again, at 3 a.m., I was up. I read for an hour. Checked Facebook. Checked in on the DBs. Went back to bed. Got up again and did another energizing yoga podcast. Brian Crandall, I love you, but it didn’t work. I dragged myself through Wednesday and God as my witness, I have no idea what I did, said, or ate. I do remember going out, and I think it was a movie. But when I came home, the DBs and I hit the sack.
The thing about jet lag naps is that they are not refreshing. It’s not like a regular, say, Saturday afternoon lazy weekend nap where you get up, stretch, and feel ready to tackle the rest of your day. Jet lag naps are like alien abductions, where you get up with mascara smeared on the side of your face and comforter and are immediately hit with a quasi-justified panicky feeling, and think “OMG! Where am I? What happened? Why am I still wearing shoes???!”
At 1 a.m., I checked in with a WhatsApp friend group and a friend of mine, A, who lives in Honduras and is going through jet lag with toddlers (she deserves a medal) mentioned melatonin. How on earth had I forgotten that? Two minutes later, I was in the medicine cabinet looking for that stuff like a junkie with access to a hospital pharmaceutical locker.
By Thursday, I’d given up fighting the jet lag beast. I got up at 9 and then the DBs and I went to the pool. I thought swimming some laps would get me back on track and would be refreshing. We had a break in the rain, so I thought I’d enjoy that. Bad idea to expend energy you do not have. BAD idea. We met DD for lunch at the Consulate, where almost every single person that I ran into told me how tired I looked. Thanks, people. Why don’t you just say I look fat and old too? OK, so maybe I’m tired, grumpy, and oversensitive. I’m justified. But I’m kind of irritated at them. I’m really, really mad at the Health Unit though, because I went in to schedule some vaccinations for the DBs and asked for the Jet Lag Shot and they told me they were all out. I think they are hoarding it. I’m reporting them to the CG first thing Monday morning when he is back. Maybe they are saving it for him though and he won’t care. Probably.
The DBs and I did the whole Let’s Try to Stay Awake Again Even Though it’s Fruitless Game again while we waited for DD to come home for dinner. He was late, of course, and by the time he arrived, I was on the bed snuggling with the DiploDog, DB1 was on the couch staring into space and DB2 was – well, I have no idea (Mother of the Year!).
We ate dinner with the skill of a toddler learning to use a spoon and then sat there, looking at each other and daring/begging someone to rise and start clearing the table so we could all go sleep.
DB2: “What are these lumps below my waist? Because they don’t work.”
DB2: “Yeah, that’s it.”
Me: “Use them, and clear off your plate, please.”
DB1: “I hate dinner.” (I would like to point out that this is normal. He’s fared better than the rest of us, apparently.)
Me: “I’m too tired to care you hate dinner. DB2, please clear off.”
[Silence. Breathing. Groan, as DB2 gets up out of his chair.]
DB2 (clearing my plate): “I’m so freaking tired I want to face plant in my mother’s chicken debris.”
Me: (stands up, waves to DBs and DD at table, waves to L) “Good night”.
And I went to bed. At 6:28 p.m. (Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!) That’s why I’m awake. It’s now 3:24 a.m. and I’m going back to bed. I may just be a Good Wife and wake DD up “accidentally” when I crawl back in. After all, Good Wives share, right? There’s no better shared bonding experience than jet lag, right? Right?