It’s a big day when your youngest finally learns to sleep through the night. Correction: it’s a big night. 7-8 hours of pure, unadulterated REM sleep! I almost forgot what it was like to run on fully charged batteries!

But last night wasn’t one of those nights. I suppose my little ones were just checking to make sure I was still on my night game.

Here are some real live clips of what I heard from four of my snuggle bugs between 12am-7am:

“Mom, I had a weally bad dweam. Can I snuggle with you!”
“Mom, I had a nightmare. Is there room in there for me?”
“Mom, we’re out of toilet paper.”
“Mom, we’re still out of toilet paper.”
“Mom, can you tickle my back?”
“Mom, sippy milk?”
“Mom, can you read me another story?”
“Can you wipe me?”
“I feel like an elephant is jumping on my tummy!”
“I have germs.”
“I’m feeling a little better now.”
“I don’t want to get up!”

Note: all comments, demands and supplications were directed to me and to me alone, never to the able bodied man sleeping to my right. Exhausted from his demanding workday, my husband fell into a bear-like slumber around 10pm and was completely unaware of the musical beds, the midnight tummy aches and the nightmares.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining. I made my peace with Male Nighttime Involuntary Selective Hearing (or MNISH) long ago.

We were living in Arizona when the real estate market crashed some years back and were feeling very poor one long, hot summer. In a brave effort to be frugal, we seldom turned on the A/C during the day and we always turned it off at night. Sweat is cheap, we told ourselves. We’ll just sleep with the windows open and pray for a breeze.

One night, I’d had enough. With a nighttime low of 102 degrees, I felt as though I should’ve been wrapped in a fluffy, white terry towel, dousing hot coals with the last of my Evian while trying to decide between the Swedish massage and the sea salt scrub, not tossing and turning on a stifling mattress wondering if the kitchen tile would feel any cooler.

I rolled over. My husband’s breathing was slow and steady…Before I knew what I was doing, I found myself creeping out of bed, softly closing the windows, then tip toeing down the hall to flick on the extravagant, cold air. I had no sooner accomplished my covert mission and pulled our thin sheet back over my sticky legs, when that sleeping bear of mine heard the soft purr of the A/C rumbling to life. He bolted upright in bed and exclaimed, “Are you crazy? Turn that thing off right now and open a window!”

I sat there for a long moment and then said calmly, “You don’t hear the baby cry. You don’t hear the baby cry. You heard that faint vibration of the A/C’s ignition and you don’t hear our baby wailing his lungs out not 10 feet away? Really? How is that possible?”

“Involuntary selective hearing,” he said without missing a beat, and went back to bed. How convenient. It took me months to swallow that one…involuntary selective…. but over the years I have come to see it’s true. Perhaps not fair, but true. MNISH is a real thing, affecting millions of households every year.

But that next morning and every morning after that, my tired bear has woken up bright and early, even bushytailed, fully rested and ready to conquer a new day, bless his hard working heart. So if NMISH means my man is able to wake up with each sunrise and go and “make something happen,” well…

I can be a silent sufferer.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, free-lance writer, wife and the mother of five small children. Read more at