It’s hard to go around feeling things all the time, especially when sleep deprived.
I decided to wait until morning before writing about sleep, lest I be resentful, or vindictive about that elusive state of consciousness. That was the plan, to wait. To sleep, then to wake, and write about sleep. Only problem is I can’t sleep.
It’s not that I suffer from insomnia, I have a sleep disorder that is much more common and irrevocable: parenthood.
Parenthood is a tricksy little sleep stealer. It steals sleep because parenting is exhausting, and when it’s mixed with all the other things needed to sustain life, like work, and sex, and writing, and trying to keep your friends, it’s even more exhausting. That’s just the basic part, and it’s sleep depriving enough. But then this odd thing happens, where everyone goes to sleep, my son, my husband, even the cat curled up in front of the heat vent, and I just don’t want to go to bed. I want to relish this little bit of perfect time that I have all to myself.
It’s like a race for those last few hours of awakeness. What do I do? Do I have a tea and cookies? Write a blog post? Work on a play? Sticky pre-production? Fold socks? Why the fuck are there so many socks? Watch Netflix? Make cake? Clean? Yoga? Drink? I could spend the whole time trying to figure out the best way to spend this time, or the most relaxing way, or the most productive. I could spend the whole time trying to convince myself to go to sleep, but be unwilling to give up the personal time. Even worse (better) is when Dave and I stay up together. We be happy to stay up talking all night.
If left to my own devices, I’m more than capable of sleeping peacefully for hours on end. I could go to sleep at 7 pm and sleep right through until noon the next day. In high school I used to go to all night dance parties, and at a certain point in the night, I could be found asleep in some secluded corner. Not sedated, just asleep. I could sleep with music blasting. I could sleep in front of the speakers.
Raves weren’t the only places that would put me to sleep. It was really anyplace. Without going into some in-depth analysis, I think it’s safe to say that being in transit, between parents and homes, gave me the ‘sleep anywhere’ instinct. On planes, in cars, trolleys, buses, trains, waiting rooms, floors, wherever: I could sleep. I could close my eyes and land in the world of dreams without effort.
In bed I would have nightmares, but mixed in with the nightmares would be fanciful dreams, and truth be told, the nightmares don’t bother me much any more. If it means I’m in a deep sleep, I’m fine with nightmares. This wasn’t always true, but it’s true now. Now I’m just glad for the sleep. And when I say glad, I mean I am just so tired.
I’m exhausted pretty much all the time. I can’t remember a time, since C was born, that I haven’t been as tired as I’ve ever been, more exhausted than I can remember ever being. Every day is an experiment in how tired I can be and still function. I worry that perhaps I’m not functioning, that perhaps this is the illusion, and I should stop trying to function altogether.
I’ve read that the thing couples argue about most is money. In my house, it’s sleep. We argue about who gets to sleep in, and when, or when naps are appropriate. But mostly argue when we are tired. We argue when we cannot find the words we need to express ourselves and use the first words we can grasp, typically words with a broader meanings, that do not belong in a conversation between collaborators. We will know when we say them that these are not the words, but we will be forced to defend them because we haven’t any others. Inevitably one of us will realize we’re just exhausted, and we’ll agree to stop talking about who used the last of the coffee and exactly who forgot to buy more.
Dave calls it ‘crashing out.’ C says “I need to get my energy back.” I say “I’m going to sleep.”
C goes to bed first, I read him stories, we chat about the day. I sit on the floor, on top of Ellie the Or, which is what C calls Eleanor the elephant blanket. Sometimes he’s so sleepy that he crawls into his small toddler bed, grabs his Bookaling and Red, and drifts off as I read. But most days he says “I want to sit with you on Ellie the Or!” And we snuggle up and read.
In the morning he wakes up, comes next door to our room, and climbs in for an hour of snuggle before rousing us to start the day. “My tummy is grumbling for waffles,” he says. I drag myself from the coziness of my flannel sheets, pull a waffle from the giant tupperware of waffles in the freezer, and throw one in the oven.
We have waffles every morning. I make roughly a million of them at the beginning of the week. It’s one of my few domestic rituals, and it typically happens Sunday morning. I make apple sauce, crush cashews, melt butter, double the recipe, and measure out the batter into the waffle maker. Waffles are not a treat, they are a deal I make with myself about sleep. A half-conscious nutritious breakfast is still a nutritious breakfast, and half-conscious is what I can best muster in the morning. Wake up, drag myself to the kitchen, throw a waffle in the oven. There’s no thought process involved in that. I’m basically half asleep from wake-up through school drop off.
Fact of the matter is, I’ve developed a nasty little espresso habit on days I go to work. Consciousness, for four bucks a day. I think of all the things I could do with that $12 a week, $15 after tip, $780 per year. I feel a little guilty about spending that money, but I don’t think I’d be awake without it.
Dave and Michael tackling Coursing Upstream last night. If you’ve been following along, you’ll be glad to know that we did come up with a better ending. (You can check it out at Sticky, 12/12, Beauty Bar Brooklyn, more at www.blueboxworld.com