The night began so well. I was exhausted, just wanting to get to bed and sleep. The day was busy enough, physical needs up to date enough to climb into bed right after tucking Julia in. I tuned into the next Doc Martin episode — my current favorite television — knowing that I’d be asleep almost before the credits were finished. I would, a little later, close the laptop, thereby dousing light and turning off media. Yes, I know, I’ve promised myself to keep media out of the bedroom but I was too tired to even open the book on the bed stand and I’d be asleep very soon anyway.
I was looking forward to a solid eight hours, possibly nine if the stars were in alignment and the prospect of getting back to even keel — I have fallen off ‘keel’ lately, working on just one more egg, indulging in electronics and google searches way too late, even when kept out of the bedroom, and walking around bleary on next days.
But then there was a spring storm about 2 a.m. and although windows are still closed at night, there was no way Julia was going to sleep through the thunder cracks. “Mom,” she calls out and I invite her into my bed. She used to be terrified. Now, just afraid, she climbs into my bed and snuggles close to me. “Hold me, mommy,” a name she isn’t calling me all that often these days. Heart melting moment and we snuggle together in spoon-like fashion. She squirms and pulls more covers as the thunder rolls and we get a spring storm light show. I am still drowsy and confident that I will fall back to sleep as efficiently as Julia will.
Then the cat, wild warrior that he is, moves from the corner of the bed, to the bend at my knees. I am not sure if he is getting or giving comfort from our closeness. This gesture is much appreciated on winter nights but with Julia on one side and the cat on the other, I am creeping towards claustrophobia and wakefulness. Eventually, the storm subsides. Julia has claimed the middle half of the bed, two thirds of the quilt and is gently snoring. The cat has moved to a distant corner. And I am awake. I turn on my reliable sleep meditation CD and, for the first time in a bout a year, a hear the entire 30-minute guided meditation and the almost all of the seemingly unending music. I hadn’t heard the end of that . . . maybe ever.
And I am still awake.
The solid eight has turned into a sustainable 5. I am somewhat disappointed and my mind begins to wander. There should be a red light and sirens that go off and gates that automatically close when I get to mind wandering after disappointing sleep! Nothing good ever comes from it. First, my preferred list of failures, inadequacies, disappointments and fears is writ large before me. I turn over, yet again, hoping that I might escape into sleep but acknowledging that my chances are diminishing ever quicker. The list of successful people—oh, I know everyone has perceived failures—known and only read about follows. And finally, that list of tasks I ‘should’ have engaged in yesterday, last week, last month and last year printed in bold, italicized red Times Roman with hand written additions of creative endeavors not seized looms.
This use of sleepless hours makes me feel old! Yes, I am old but not as old as these ponderings make me feel. I remind myself that this kind of a night—waking after enough sleep to survive but not thrive—is been a habit formed when I was far from old. I was almost young when it began. I actually remember a time when a hazy, half-conscious day felt a bit romantic. No more, that kind of romance accepts a late lie-in, afternoon naps and some not-responsible-for-cooking-meals way of getting fed. Today, there is a list of tasks and appointments waiting for me and an evening meeting, and a kid to schelp to school and afternoon therapy. There are the unwritten and unscheduled small clean ups that I expect myself to do between times and there is no milk in the house.
The alarm chirps. Julia asks for the snooze. There is no light yet. I yawn and stretch, wonder why I gave up coffee, and head for the hot shower.
Great gratitude for hot showers!