To sleep, perchance to — well, just sleep.
Posted on July 10th, 2013
As we travel across the country trying to sleep in one of any number of hotel rooms with Roy, I can’t imagine a timelier re-post. Enjoy.
No one is sleeping at my house.
It’s been a week now, and I feel like the ugly pattern has clearly defined itself so that I can put a name to it without fear of jinxing us. I deliver this news to you with a sense of peace and impunity: we cannot be jinxed, you see, because we are already not sleeping.
Nighttime has always been a mixed bag with The Three. Roy was an infant when I realized that he had come into this plane of existence with the reflexes of a battle-hardened sentry. Kindly put, Roy is a light sleeper. We had to hang dark, heavy things on his windows to keep news of the sun’s early arrival from him. Did you know that it is possible to be bored in the middle of the night? Roy does. Even now, he can wake up from a dead sleep, recognize that nothing is happening, and stagger to the side of our bed to demand a beverage because, friends, nothing else is going on.
(Once I found a weird phone message on our home phone SENT from our home phone in the wee hours of the morning. The episode had an eerie, Twilight Zone quality to it until I untangled the previous night’s events all Sherlock Holmes-style, only to realize that it was Roy dialing our home number from one of the extensions. I think he was four.)
And it seems as if Peaches didn’t spend an entire night in her own bed until she was in kindergarten. Within days of bringing down the rails coming on her crib, she made use of her license to roam the house like the liberated woman that she had become. Well, she might have been liberated but she was also lonesome. And so her tiny feet would pad down the hall into our room. All of my high-horse, oppositional bologna toward co-sleeping had been well and truly buried beneath years of practical experience and exhaustion by then and, as far as I was concerned, Peaches could sleep anywhere she damn well pleased. Today, she seems none the worse for wear, but I fear this kink in my shoulder will always be with me, a reminder of my daughter’s first five years.
Marcel was always the exception. His creeping out of bed just after he’d been tucked into it, down the stairs and around corners to find us (“What are you doing?” he wanted to know; and now that he was in bed, really, what on earth could we be doing?), this child has slept like a baby. At least, the way I was led to believe a baby sleeps.
As they’ve grown up some, things have shaken out the sleep front—regulated themselves if you will. Bedtimes arrive at a pretty consistent time and with the occasional exception (Roy, “thirsty” again) everyone sleeps through the night. Occasionally, however, there comes a week or ten days where it feels like I’ve time travelled and The Three are not school age at all but rather the toddling towers of id with which I first became acquainted.
I have learned that these periods of middle-of-the-night disruption are cyclical, though. They do not persist. Rather they are shadowy reflections of the way we spend our lives during our waking hours. We are doing too much and, as you may know, there is often a tax to be paid on the already-overtaxed: restless sleep either too easily broken by the smallest disturbance.
This weekend there were were two birthday parties and a trip to the rodeo (really), a movie and a baseball practice and a visit from a beloved teenaged friend and babysitter who played games on her phone with them and just generally served as an exciting and stimulating presence.
We are exhausted, overtired babies all.
Sleep will return when deliberate measures are taken to return equanimity to our days. This is work, too: the creation of green space in the crowded jumble of our collective existence. But a worthier endeavor is hard to imagine this morning, as I finish off the better part of a pot of coffee and daydream about going back to bed.∗