22 August 2005

after hours

lately, I have been more than willing to sacrifice sleep for free time. I crave hours where nothing is required of me, when the house is still and dark. I lay on the couch and contemplate. I am seduced by the possibility of the night. the books I might read, the projects I might work on. more often than not, I end up on the living room floor in the middle of an impossible mountain of laundry, folding and folding while watching bad television. and then all of the sudden it is the middle of the night, and I am hunched over the glowing screen of my lovely computer, reading and clicking and writing. and then, it is no longer the middle of the night but THE NEXT DAY and I have only a couple of hours to fit in a whole nights' sleep. I run and jump into bed, pull the sheets up over my wired self and shut my eyes quickly, as if I've been caught and immediately need to feign deep sleep.

I know this is wrong, it is not good, it has to stop. my children should have the best part of who I am each day. oh sure, I can fake my way through but I know that I'm eventually headed for a private meltdown. I can feel the exhaustion deep in the sockets of my eyes, in the depths of my joints. ava and ezra deserve more than this. and truly, I want to give it to them. the best of who I am is a happy and loving mother, a goofy, creative mother, an ALERT mother, one that is not the grouchiest, most delirious mommy EVER, one that posesses the amount of coherence required to assemble a simple puzzle, one that will not nod off mid-sentence, one that does not have the 'crazy eyes'.

the trouble is, I have always been a night owl. I think I was in junior high when my parents finally gave up trying to get me to go to bed at a sensible hour. they found me huddled under my blue satin bedspread with a book and a flashlight too many times to count and so they just gave up. this night owl-ness has always been a big part of who I am and then I married a night owl and we so loved being night owls together. and then we had babies and for the first time, someone, something was FORCING us into night owl-dom and we wept for the days (and nights) when we could sleep freely. oh sleep, beautiful sleep. it's so good. why hadn't we slept more? we could not understand why we did not choose to sleep for all the hours of our pre-children nights (if only in preparation for the relentless sleeplessness that only babies can bring).

now, I have come full circle. ava and ezra are sleeping well these days and so now I can sleep, too (in my own bed, through the night) and all I want to do is stay up. I want to stay up and make things, write, read, lay on the couch with ward and laugh and make jokes that don't make any sense and pretend that I don't have to be up at what feels like the very crack of dawn. last night (well, this morning), I was ever so innocently catching up on my email when I happened to glance up at the clock. I was horrified, HORRIFIED to see that it read 5:49 a.m. I would have to be up in less than an hour! what was wrong with me? was there even time to sleep? all these thoughts racing through my head as I tried to grab the tiniest, most pathetic shred of sleep. tonight, I will surely crash. and this week, I will surely succumb to the decent sleep routine of a normal person. I will catch up on the zzz's and feel good again. but I'm a little too much like a junkie (I need my night time fix, MAN) and it will soon be time for more night owl-like activities. I will find myself deep in project mode at 3 a.m. and will make more promises to the part of me who wants to be the best mother, to the body that is begging me for sleep. I will negotiate with myself until I see the pink light of morning outside my window.


  1. OH I'm so with you. I can be tired all day and the minute everything in the house shuts down for the night I can get caught up in so many things. But my husband these days looks at me and says "bedtime..."
    I hate mornings, I hate waking up. in the morning I wonder what was so wrong with the bed the night before? I am useless as a mom with out sleep, it isnt good to beg your child to nap :)
    I feel you.

  2. do they nap? that's how i get away with the late nights -- by napping when my daughter naps. regardless though, don't beat yourself up about it. you don't have to be supermom every day... or even every week. or, uhh, ever. heh.

  3. can i just say.....you are reading my mind! e and i are also night owls, in a bad way and we are always fighting ourselves to go to bed. i am always savouring the late night hours we get to ourselves to finally have time to play, create, read, think.... my bedtime is more like 2 or sometimes 3 am....and then i find i lay awake till probably 4 thinking about all the things i want to continue...it seems like it's a vicious circle, waking up in a semi-comatose state only to have a wide-eyed 3 yr old wanting to take on the world....and i'm dragging myself. and you're right these kids, these beautiful creatures we love so much do deserve a sparkly fun happy mom....but i think we still are....just some days are maybe just mediorce in comparison to others. i don't know what the answer is..... all is know is you're not alone. maybe just one or two late nights a week....vs everynight? i must say though the sleeplessness that comes out of this creativity is far better than the frustration that comes out of not creating and i'm sure our children can sense the difference. at least we're not doing drugs or drinking or far more harmful bad habits. but still there must be a happy balance and i feel you. so amazing someone else does the same thing.

  4. we are cut of the same cloth! i just don't have the kids to feel guilty about... (i have other things)... all will work out. you will get sleep. at some point the body just won't let you do anything else. just don't feel guilty! that doesn't help! :)

  5. i don't have kids but i can see myself doing this exact thing someday. i just feel more alive at night. i hate waking up so much, especially when it's because i have to. i think i have this stubborn streak that comes out in me when i am told i have to be up at a certain time and suddenly it seems that all these delightful things are going on that i will surely miss out on if i sleep. i detest afternoons, the space between is about 2&5 is so boring. mornings are beautiful and i love the idea of sunrise, but i would so much rather stay up to see than have to get up to see it. i feel your pain.

  6. Me too!!! I've got a couple more hours before I start to panic about getting enough sleep before the sun comes up!
    Why cant the little ones give us a couple hours during regular hours??? I'd gladly give up some late hours for that!

  7. You took the words right out of my mouth!!!!

  8. "Live Free or Die Trying" -- Candles can burn at both ends. They seem to be built that way. But they burn up twice as fast.

    Through this story, you remind me of someone I wrote about on August 22,2005.

    She made it to 39.

  9. ohh this makes me sleepy...i'm so slow to rise in the mornings...
    i hope to get back to you today...
    also, added you to my list of blogs that i read...

  10. I have always liked staying up and watching late night TV and just having time to myself to meditate on the days' happenings and what was or is in store for the next day. You are quite the norm!

  11. I've done that more times then I care to admit. You need you time. Your mind is taking it wherever it can get it. Don't beat yourself up about it, but perhaps if you find a time/place to reserve a bit of you time you'll stop robbing your sleep in such an extreme.

  12. I'm happy to report that I have gotten so much sleep this last week (david, I so appreciate your words of wisdom but you freaked me out a little... okay, A LOT). I feel better knowing that I am not alone in my super-crazy night owl-ness and don't feel so bad about it anymore. thanks, all.

    though I do believe I feel another all nighter coming on.