Let me tell you all a little something about jet lag:
It’s a BITCH!
Jet lag is not what you see on tv. Blonde chick with smudged makeup gets off the red-eye and struggles a little for two minutes. Then, 12 hours pass in two minutes and she’s in her comfy bed smiling. The next day, she up and ruining some unknown dude’s life or making plans he is NOT ready for. (This is a 90s rom-com. See episode 8 of Doom Patrol for more details.)
Anyway, jet lag is different in real life, especially if you are a mom and a writer and its spring break AND your husband is not home to be buffer between you and the children. Let’s dive into the 7 things they don’t tell moms about jet lag.
1. Kids don’t know jet lag and don’t care about him either.
To my kids, saying that I am “jet-lagged” meant the same as saying, “I am an octopus. My kids 3, 8, and 15 just recognized that I was home should be able to operate as normal. They’ve never heard of jet lag. In fact, the toddler thought Jet Lag was a “he,” a friend of mine from the plane who really made me mad. She bounced all around me as I lay exhausted on the bed awaiting bedtime.
2. The exhaustion doesn’t go away with a nap or even night’s sleep.
I thought my jet lag would be relieved with a nap during the day. I got home at 10 AM (cuz Chicago rush hour traffic) and set my alarm for 3 hours. I had interviews to do over the phone in the afternoon and needed to be at least coherent.
I woke up from a stupor so disorienting that I panicked at seeing my bedroom around me. For some reason, my mind thought we were still on the plane and waking up to my room was just too damn much to handle. It took a few seconds of hardcore panting and then deep breathing to get my self together. Once that was done, I realized that I was just as tired as I was when I laid down three hours before.
3. You will be f$%ked up for a few days.
One of the mommy influencers on the trip (shoutout to Amanda Shute Taylor) talked about the jet lag. First, I should have requested like she did to stay another night and skip the red-eye altogether. I keep forgetting that we have this option for press junkets. This is your NOTE TO SELF Jo-Jo! Amanda told me that the jet lag will have me out of sorts till the weekend.
“You’ll start feeling like yourself somewhere around Sunday.” She told me this Wednesday. I took the red-eye Thursday morning. I laughed nervously at three days of exhaustion.
She was not joking. It’s Saturday night right now and I still feel like my body is a wet sack of flour that I am pulling around til bedtime.
4. Jet lag is worse than preggo brain.
I was prepared somewhat to be crazy tired for a few days. I was not prepared for the brain fog. Thoughts would take a long time to conjure only to be lost, one word after another in the mist that had taken up space in my brain. I started emails and didn’t send them. I started sentences and never finished.
At one point, I looked up and realized that Charlie was standing in front of me saying, “Mommy” over and over.
“What?” I asked, a bit annoyed (See #5).
“You called me over here and said then spazzed out!”
“Huh?” I was genuinely confused, having no memory of doing this seconds ago.
“Did you need me to do something?” Now he was annoyed and ready punt me off to a nursing home somewhere for sure. For some reason, teens always think were are senile, clueless beings anyway.
“No.” Then it hit me. I did call him to over to do something. “I need the back yard raked. You didn’t do it while I was gone.”
He stopped a beat, ready to tell me about myself but knowing that he better not. “Is that all?”
“Well, if you keep that attitude then I can find something else for you to do.”
He stomped off to the back yard. I know he was completely done with me.
The brain fog is one of the things I had so much trouble with. I spent today going back and completing emails I left hanging. One editor just said to take my time getting back. I guess she could feel my struggle in the words. That or it was full of typos my brain couldn’t function enough to catch.
5. Everyone and everything will dance on your last surviving nerve.
Quinnie hated the way her brother was looking at her and told me all about it as she bounced on my back and played with my braids. Then Connor decided to play a game where he took the Pixar balls I brought them and threw them up the stairs, and shouting “POINTS” if they careened off the banister on the way down.
Then Angus came up to my room, stared me into my eyes, and peed on my suitcase. I screamed at them all like a loosed banshee, “Go to your rooms!” “Get off me” “Stop throwing the damn balls” “Come get your dog Charlie!”
When I finished, Quinn was still sitting on my bed.
“You need a nap, mommy,” she said and sauntered off to her room. I apologized with pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert.
I am still struggling to keep my nerves in check. But it’s like trying to take a test while someone is running their fingernails on a chalkboard.
6. ADHD + jet lag = bad acid trip.
My ADHD was so triggered these past few days. The brain fog was amplified and my forgetfulness was at MIB brain zapper levels. However, the problem was this little-known ADHD symptom that many people don’t know about unless they are Team Shiny (they have ADHD). It’s our tendency to retreat inward where we get stuck and can stay stuck for several minutes. It looks like the person is just staring off into space, but really, we are legit lost in our own thoughts. Usually, I can just climb out of it and back into the real world
With jet lag, I slipped into this state a few times and struggled to get out. at one point, I was struggling so hard to break out of that state that it felt like I was actually in a dream. One time, I was having a waking dream. It was trippy and felt like a hallucination, a bad one that I couldn’t leave. I eventually did, but it’s something I plan to mention to my therapist at my next session.
6. Jet lag is a rough experience I need to avoid at all costs.
So for the next junket, I will come out of my own pocket for an extra night at the hotel to avoid
FYI this experience has revived my belief in the healing powers of baby snuggles.
And, if I EVAH hear one of you saying “it’s just a little jet lag,” I will come for you. Minimizing this, especially for moms going through their first time is the absolute last thing we need.