I’m not a morning person. Never have been. When the sun rises in the morning to introduce a new day, my first response is to inform the big, flaming ball of gas that our condo association expressly forbids solicitations. It needs to go away. Unfortunately, adult life doesn’t really allow for you to stay in bed until 1pm everyday, so I drag myself up and go about my business. Begrudgingly. Needless to say, it takes me awhile to really become coherent.
That usually happens around 9 o’clock at night.
It’s not as if I don’t try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Once I’ve put the Hellions to bed I usually wait up to see Mama Angel for a bit, and then hit the sack by no later than 10 or so. Only slightly later than your average senior citizen.
The problem is that no matter how tired I am, my mind picks that moment to start racing like it’s in the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, while the race might start smoothly, the longer it goes on the more likely there will be a horrific crash. My pit crew doesn’t exactly help, either. To illustrate, here’s what was going through my head throughout the course of a sleepless night earlier this week:
“Okay. Time to do this thing. Breathe in, breathe out. Controlled breathing. Tense and release the muscles. Clear your mind. Relax…”
“What the hell was the name of the guy who played The Penguin in the old Batman series?”
“Okay, knock it off. It’s been twenty minutes. It doesn’t matter what his name was. Go to sleep”
“Christ, I’m getting old. Why the hell is my hip hurting like this? It shouldn’t hurt like this. Got to turn over. Can’t turn over. Draped my arm over Angel and she’s not letting go. Gotta wait until she moves. Any minute now. Any minute now….”
“Did I flip the laundry? Eh, it can wait.”
“I know this. I know I know this. He was Rocky’s trainer, for crying out loud! What the hell was his name?”
“When is she going to let go of my damn arm??”
“C’mon, c’mon. You need to relax. Clear your mind. Clear your mind.”
“I can’t believe I’ve got her watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She swore she’d never watch it. Now she loves it. I love it. Between this and “Doctor Who” I’ve completely turned her. Who’s the geek now, Baby??”
“Did I pay the damn water bill this month? They haven’t turned it off. If I hadn’t they totally would have turned it off by now. Wouldn’t they? Need to double-check.”
“Did I just hear the boys’ door open? Dear sweet Jesus, please tell me I didn’t just hear that.”
“She let go! Hallelujah!”
“Okay, I’m turned over, I’ve got the cool side of the pillow, and the rain’s hitting the window. Now or never. Never going to be a better time to sleep. Clear your mind, and just go to sleep.”
“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, WHAT THE *&^% IS HIS NAME????”
“Why is there a tiny hand on my face?”
“He’s having a rough night. Best just bite the bullet and lay down in his bed with him. Only way anyone’s getting any sleep tonight. Crap. Forgot my pillow. I’ll just have to grab the old pregnancy body pillow out of the boys’ closet.”
“I love you very much, son. There’s only so many times I can sing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”. Please go to sleep.”
“This pregnancy pillow is really nice. Works just as good for fluffy daddies as pregnant mommies”.
“I don’t get this. I gave him Melatonin. Why isn’t he going to sleep??”
“This is getting ridiculous. What the hell is wrong with him? Why will he not go to sleep? He’s not going to be able to do anything in therapy tomorrow if he doesn’t go to sleep.”
“He needs more therapy. Got to ask Angel where we are with the Medicaid. Shouldn’t be this damn difficult. He obviously needs it. We’re not asking for a damn handout. We paid into the system. The boy needs more therapy.”
“Time for a Hail Mary. Go get him some milk. That might do it.”
“I sang to him. I gave him milk. I stroked his forehead. I even drugged him. He’s still going full throttle. This is stupid. He’s doing this on purpose. I’m about to tan his backside.”
“He’s not doing this on purpose. He’s autistic. It’s not his fault. This is what happens. I need to calm down.”
“My boy is autistic.”
“What are we going to do when he gets older? He’s cute now, so people are pretty forgiving. That’s not going to last. He’s going to age out of the “cute phase” eventually. People are gonna stare at him. They’re going to treat him like he’s damaged. I can’t be with him all the time. What do I do if he gets picked on at school? What if the teacher’s decide he’s just a problem child? It’s not his fault. It’s not like he’s trying to be difficult.”
“It’s my fault. I had the sensory problems as a kid. He probably got it from me. It’s my fault”
“His brother’s gonna have to take care of him when we’re gone. Can I really expect that? That’s not fair. I can’t ask him to do that. He needs to live his own life”
“Need to make sure to love on his brother some more tomorrow. Need to give him a little extra attention. Don’t want him to feel neglected because I’m so focused on his brother. Need to make sure he never feels neglected. Got to make him a priority, too.”
“That’s right, buddy. Cuddle up to Daddy. Daddy loves it.”
“Man he’s beautiful. How in the world did I manage to help make a kid this beautiful?”
“Rocking! We’ve got rocking! He’s gonna pass out any moment.”
“He’s out. Now all I’ve got to do is maneuver myself out of this tiny, tiny bed without stirring him. Maybe I SHOULD do yoga like she keeps begging me to.”
“Only time he’s doesn’t wipe a kiss off is when he’s asleep. Take that, Buddy. Daddy loves you”
“Damn. That took two hours. Got to be up in another hour. Seriously, stop thinking and go to sleep. Got to work tomorrow.”
“Why is there a tiny hand on my face?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I must have woke him up when I got out of bed with his brother.”
“Okay, break the cardinal rule. Pull him up into the bed, let him sleep with us. Too tired to fight.”
“How can a person this small take up this much room?”
“Thank you very much for the elbow to the eye, buddy.”
“Okay, everyone’s settled, everything’s quiet. Time to clear your mind and go to sleep. Breathe in, breathe out. Tense and relax the muscles. Clear your mind.”
Alarm goes off.
Just another weeknight. Every one of us has nights like these. At some point we all lay awake and wonder how good we really are at this “adulting”thing. Only thing I can suggest is to remember this: as much as you really don’t want it to when you’re laying there desperately trying to find your way to sleep, the sun will rise again. You will get another shot to make things work. Honestly, they’re probably not even as bad as you think they are.
The difficulty with being realistic about your world is the same as what’s giving you trouble getting to sleep. We’re all stuck in our own heads. Push comes to shove, I recommend just cutting yourself some slack. Take a moment before you hit the sack to congratulate yourself for the fact that you and yours simply made it though another day, that you get another shot tomorrow. Treat yourself. Watch a movie that’s actually made for an adult. Spend some time with your partner just enjoying each other’s company. If necessary, a little liquor to relax you isn’t out of the question.
You might think you don’t deserve it, that you didn’t get enough done that day. Well, keep up with that frame of mind and you’ll go so many nights without sleep that you never will get enough done. Take care of yourself so you can take care of the munchkins. If not for yourself, do it for them.
By the way, I’m totally not writing this because I’m trying to convince or keep myself honest. Nope. My wisdom is flawless, and I always take my own advice. Absolutely.
Speaking of which, I do have one more suggestion to make with the whole “sleeping through the night” thing. Deadbolts that lock from the outside of the kids’ doors might be something to consider. Just saying.