Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Have you seen a racoon mum?
Here's a label I haven't heard before: "Racoon mum". Or more precisely, "racoon mom", because the example I saw was from Canada. I suppose if we actually were racoons - the variety that sit up and read stuff on computers - then we would already know all about racoon mums/moms and there would be nothing further to add.
But for any non-racoon readers, the phrase "racoon mum" describes a particular pattern of sleep deprivation. It is the way that already sleep-starved mothers of young children become even more exhausted by staying up all night messing round on Facebook, playing Tetris, Googling their old school friends or watching re-runs of Friends at three in the morning on UK Bedsit. In general, staying up half the night doing nothing in particular.
The reference to the racoon is because this behaviour is both nocturnal and rather secretive, hanging around alone in the lamplight of the small hours, black-ringed eyes bulging with tiredness.
The theory is that the racoon mum spends all day either at work or at the beck and call of their children. Any parent will know that children can be tough and unrelenting task masters and after a full day and evening of them-time, the racoon mum still wants some me-time. Going to bed early will mean a day without any adult time.
So the racoon mum gets the white wine and the computer or television and spends some quality time alone.
Except it gets late very quickly and going to bed so late means exhaustion the next morning. Lack of sleep makes the following day even tougher and when you're sleepless, everything is twice as stressful. So the racoon mum is in even greater need of a restorative fix of spare time.
I suspect there are plenty of racoon dads out their too. We manage to make our days so overcrowded that there isn't any room for ourselves in our own lives.