Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sleep Struggles

It's 5:00 a.m., a warm body crawls into bed with me saying, "Bad dream." A blanket then covers me, the fleece feels too hot with the addition of the body heat. I hate being in the middle; my feet are on fire. I ask, "What did you dream about?" He replies, "I was mad and I broke a lot of plates." He falls back to sleep. I am too hot. I get up. The sunrises at 4:37 a.m. here anyway. I stayed up reading until 12:30 a.m. It could be a long day.

Summer break means that the children are with me all day. I suggest we pack for our trip tomorrow. One packs, the other makes a small pile. I sort through stashes of old shampoo bottles and toothbrushes collected from other travels. There are four toothbrush kits, six different razors- three kinds of disposables, one old fashioned straight blade, and two different Gillettes. There is a bottle of perfume from 1998- why do I still have it? It strikes me that it is time to toss this shit. Thoughts like, "It might be useful," or "Next time I will take it," caution me to keep things, but it just clutters the space in my closet. There are little pieces of debris hogging up space everywhere I look. I can't seem to bring myself to get rid of the dress I haven't worn in ten years, the jacket I haven't worn to an office in thirteen years- a tailor made it for godsakes. Still I feel the closet, despite it's four shelves and one rack that hold my things actually only holds two shelves worth of useful stuff. Of that stuff, a few of them don't even fit properly in the waist or the length. I have removed the sweater that needs the button resewn and the shirt that won't stay closed, but there is the dress with the spaghetti straps that are broken. Really, why am I thinking of these things in my closet instead of packing? Why does packing start with me inventorying my closet and pulling out baskets stuffed with razors and old mascara? I found my DC Metrocard; I saved it, again- it might be a good souvenir. I am not packed. I have a few hours in the morning before the flight.

The door opens. I am reading by the light of my iPad so the bright light is in my eyes, but I know that quiet, coy approach. I say, "Yes?" She says, "I can't sleep. I keep trying, but I can't sleep." Why is it when children are the most tired, they can't sleep? She says, "I'm like you- when you are up, I am up." I grumble, "I am trying to have some quiet time so I can relax. I am reading a story." She says, "You can read me a story. I will stay quiet." I respond, "I already read you a story an hour ago. Go to the bathroom- go pee, have a drink. I'll put you back in bed." "I just need mama to hold me," she says, but she goes and does as I suggest nonetheless. I hold her and take her back to her room. Kids are tough- they work you over night and day. All that talking during the day wears me out. They had a swim lesson as well. They must be tired and yet they persist. I once put that kid to bed forty-two times in one night. I know to minimize the positive reward for pulling mama out of her bed and getting one on one time, but I also know her pain. I struggled to fall asleep as a child. She knows this. "Tell me a story about what you thought of when you were little and couldn't sleep," she asks. My brain pauses and sort of drifts back. "I used to think about being Greek or Egyptian, like the Moose, but I thought of exploring the pyramids or walking through temples," I tell her. I really did- I have no idea why, but I used to like to think about wearing a white tunic in Greco-Roman style and exploring Cairo. I have never been there, and I can't remember any books particularly about it, but somehow it was a pleasant adventure. I tell her, "You think it is fun to explore your imagination at night, but if you don't sleep then it is hard to have adventures during the day." She responds, "What is forty-seven million plus forty-seven million?" Knowing she is lost in her mind, I reply, "Good night. I love you," as I leave and pull the door shut.

Summer vacation takes time to adjust too- everyone is at loose ends with the sudden schedule changes. The value of a longer break is that you get used to it and then you are free to pursue your own interests. It takes time to get used to free time though.