My Whac-A-Mole Life: Sometimes I Can't Sleep   

Sometimes I Can't Sleep

Sometimes I can't sleep.

I can't even blame it on the kids this time. It's not that I'm not tired; I'm beyond exhausted. I haven't slept properly consecutively since around 2000, despite my habit of leaping into the bed like a gold-medal gymnast by 8 pm.

When I do sleep, nothing - and I mean NOTHING - can wake me. I have slept through tornado watches; mysterious fire alarm battery chirps (come on, it happen to everyone); and malfunctioning burglar alarms. It's disconcerting actually. Lest you think I'm well rested, bear in mind that this only occurs in spurts...and I'm convinced I need many more hours of sleep than the average person. (Please do remember that there's nothing "average" about my whac-a-mole life!)

But nights like this one are different. A few hours ago, I battled to keep my eyes open just to make it through the afternoon, and now they won't close.

Instead, the Doppler Radar inside my brain - unfettered by mundane activities like making lunches and shuttling carpools - blips and twirls. I fret that my sweet baby girl sprawled out in bed next to me is almost my size - practically a third adult in the bed (yes, my bed because at least I know she's safe). I wonder if her nightly visits will ever cease...and whether she'll ever sleep under any roof but my own.

I consider that school is starting in a week...and how my children's summer experiences are so notably different than my own warmly mundane childhood memories. There are no bike rides to the pool with friends. No marathon phone conversations. No sleepovers. No overnight summer camping adventures. They don't miss it; but I guess I miss it for them. Are their summer memories good enough to give them warm fuzzies in 30 years? Does it matter?

Earlier tonight, my husband and I had one of THOSE moments: Our son was washing his hands for the umpteenth time and our daughter was sniffing our hair and yell-talking "snow snow snow" (because it's August in the Southeast United States, so of course) and the new puppy was bark-running in circles - and we looked at each other above the fracas and grinned.
I can't imagine another household as messy, chaotic, anxious, volatile and loud as ours. We joke that our family would be reality show gold - except, my son adds, "the problem is that no one would believe it was real."

Still, we grin because this is OUR nuthouse, and laughter often is our only panacea.

And now I can't sleep.

I take my daughter's warm hand in mine, startled at its vastness. Those sweet, soft baby fingers now are stretched and worn; her raw, picked-over cuticles mirroring my own. I don't know when I last carried her on my hip -  probably not too long ago during a tantrum - but I don't think I ever could again. She's solid as a rock. I hardly can move her over in the bed to grab my share of the covers.

I reach over her for my husband's hand, remembering the first time he held mine so very long ago.

I think this is an alarm clock.
I wouldn't really know since
we haven't needed one since
my son was born 12 years ago.
I remind myself - and write it down for good measure - that these days are long, hard, exhausting, and not anything like I or anyone possibly could grasp - but they're all I got.

So tomorrow, regardless of whether I sleep, I'll do it all again.
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