I have teenagers. Anyone out there with teens will know exactly where I am going with this...
When you give birth you give up on getting a good night's sleep for at least the first few months. For some people it may last the first year before your little one sleeps through the night and you are able to finally get a full night's sleep yourself. That is after those first few nights that you can't believe your little one hasn't woken up, yet, so then you can't sleep because you have to go in every couple of hours and make sure they are still breathing.
In our case, our son didn't sleep through the night until he was 3. To this day I am surprised our marriage survived through all that. We argued every night as to who's turn it was to go to him, how we should handle him, what gimmick are we going to try that night to get him back to sleep. His schedule was to sleep 2 hours than he wanted to be up for the next 2 hours then we may get another hour or two before he was up again. This was night after night after night until he was a little over 3 years old. We tried letting him just cry it out - he cried for hours, we would take him for drives in the car at 2 in the morning only to have him wake back up when we shut the car off. The one that worked the best was putting his car seat on top of the washing machine and doing our laundry at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning. We were so sleep deprived I do not know how we functioned during the day.
Then you may get a few years of restful nights. Until your young child reaches school age and they start to learn the world is a much bigger place then they ever knew and nightmares, or in my son's case sleep-walking, starts taking over your nights. My son would get up out of bed come into our room, stand next to the bed and have a whole conversation about gibberish then decide he was going for a walk outside. We had to put a deadbolt lock on the top of the door so he could not get it open on his own. We did this after we found him halfway to the swimming pool one night when he as about 6. It took about 2 years before the sleep-walking stopped. Luckily this was not an every night occurrence. It happened maybe once every 2 or 3 weeks.
While all this was going on with our son we did squeak out time to have a 2nd child. A daughter 20 months after our son was born. Thank goodness she loved her sleep. She started sleeping through the night within her first 3 months but she had a whole set of other issues going on during the day. She was a high risk pregnancy and for the 1st year and 1/2 of her life she was not a happy baby when she was awake. She was sick a lot and took a trip to Boston's Children's Hospital every couple of weeks. Daycare was calling me so much to come pick her up because she was running another fever that my husband gave up his job to take care of her for about a year. When she was not sick, she just was not a happy child. She was grouchy, cranky, didn't like being held. I think the first full sentence our son spoke was "STAND CLEAR OF THE BABY!!" He knew enough to not bother her or he would pay the price with her moodiness.
What I am getting at was that we really did not get much rest as parents for the first 6 years. Our kids survived elementary school and made it into middle school. Some scrimmages between their friends and others not considered friends. But life got a little easier.
High School - Girl friends and boy friends are now added to the equation. Who are you with? Who is driving? Where are you going? Answer your phone when I call you! I feel this is when the battle lines are drawn between being the "Parents" or the "Enemy Lines"
Then you hear other parents compliment how well mannered you child is and you own child will tell you stories of what the "other kids" are doing and will honestly tell you what they have done, tried, and have not done, etc. And you start to realize you have done a good job raising young adults.
Then one turns 18... He actually turned 18 about 6 months ago.
My son called Dad last night and told him not to wait up. He was going to a party and will stay there for the night. He didn't call Mom because he knows what Mom would have said.
Anyway, my restful nights are OVER again for a while. Why does he need to stay over? He can call me. I don't care what time it is. I will drive and pick him up. Why can't he sleep in his own bed?
My son arrived safely home this morning. Had a good time. Said it was a quiet night but he enjoyed himself.
I do remember being 18. I drove to Florida when I was 18. Why did 18 seems so much OLDER when it was me? My son being 18 still seems so young to me. My daughter will be there in another 13 months. Can I handle it? I survived the first 6 years without sleep. Hopefully I will survive the next 6.