By: Emma Johnston
The other morning as the clock crept closer to 6:00am I sat at my kitchen table grumpily nursing my first morning coffee. The table beside me was scattered with remnants from last night’s dinner and the floors were still sticky from a spilled Root-beer two days before. I sat there, head throbbing and tears of sheer exhaustion rolling down my cheeks.
That night had been hard, not devastating or tragic, just hard. I had stayed up late, trying to get the last mountain of laundry away before everyone got up the next morning and by the time I was crawling between my sheets I was already tired from a long day. I closed my eyes, ready to dream of sunny beaches and lottery wins and was asleep immediately. Exactly twelve minutes after I had tucked myself into bed my eldest called me from his room. He sounded panicked and upset and so, as I always do, I leapt from my bed and raced to his bedroom expecting to hear of a bad dream or a tummy ache. Instead, he asked me if I had remembered to pack his homework in his back pack… I assured him I had, though in my head I was telling him exactly what I thought he could do with his homework, I tucked him back in and went back to my own room.
Now a little more awake than I wanted to be, I tossed and turned for about half an hour before I finally drifted back to those sunny beaches. Thirty-six minutes after going back to sleep, my daughter called me. It was her middle of the night bathroom break, which normally she can do without the assistance of her mother, but the bathroom was out of toilet paper, and so momma was called. I then wandered from bathroom to bathroom to laundry room, only to discover that, in fact, the entire house was out of toilet paper. I passed her a box of Kleenex, then tucked her back into bed and flopped into my own bed.
I fell asleep quickly this time, but not to sunny to beaches. I fell asleep and was immediately immersed in those terrible dreams that wake you up confused and sobbing. And so, an hour later I sat bolt upright in my bed, trying to figure out if those spider-eyed kidnappers and rabid dogs and eight-foot tall blood sucking leaches, were real or a figment of my imagination. I washed my face, got a drink of water, checked all the closets and went to climb back into bed. Just as I was rolling into what I was sure was going to be a comfortable and rest of the night position, my wretched, moronic cat sauntered into my bedroom, jumped up on my bed and meowed in my face. I tried pushing him away. He came back and meowed more aggressively. I pulled a pillow over my head and he started pawing at my shoulder. I tried growling. He didn’t care, he wanted to go outside, he had some escapade he needed to be on and I was the only adult in the house. I had to let him out. This time I did not keep my feelings to myself and I told the cat exactly what I thought he should do while he was outside. Then closing the door, locking it and muttering incoherently to myself, I went back to bed.
I got two hours of sleep this time until my middle child woke up sick. He was fevered and coughing, he was struggling to breath from the mucous build up and his head hurt. For the next hour and a half I got him water, Tylenol, Kleenexes, I sang him songs, rubbed his back and covered him in Vicks Vapo Rub. Eventually he fell fast asleep in my bed, his slobbery, sweaty head smooshed up against me and he snored himself into oblivion. I had just over an hour until my alarm was scheduled to go off. I adjusted it, giving myself a precious 20 more minutes of sleep and then molded myself around my sick little boy.
I had been asleep for close to half an hour when my daughter woke up again. It was her turn for a bad dream. Crying, disoriented and tangled in her blankets she called for me. I left my son in my bed and dragged my now destroyed self to my daughter’s bedroom. I curled up among her purple owl sheets and told her happy stories of baby kittens and great adventures she would go on with Dallas and Ellis. She eventually fell asleep… I did not.
So at 6:00am on that morning as I looked at an entire day ahead of me, now complicated by a sick child and no less busy than it would have been had I got 7 hours of sleep, I cried and drank my coffee and sat at the kitchen table waiting for some magical energy to spill from my cup and flow through my veins. It didn’t come, but something else did.
Perhaps it was the delirium from lack of sleep but it occurred to me that one day, some time in the future, some distant self, might, one day, actually miss these days. That even though my children do not allow me one ounce of peace, that I would hate not having them here with me. That the snoring, sick child laying horizontally across my bed is an amazing blessing that I wouldn’t trade for the world. That one day nobody will call me when they have a bad dream, no one will need me when they have a cough that keeps them up, no one will rely on me to get their homework in their backpacks. Heck, even my stupid cat will one day be gone and all the noise and sleepless nights and people who need me and call to me and rely on me will be off leading their own lives and I will have perfectly restful nights, alone. No tiny humans that need me to comfort them and protect them and sing to them, one day these sleepless nights will be a memory.
I poured myself an orange juice, hoping the caffeine and the sugar combined would get me going, and then I started to make the kids lunches – because as much as I want a nap, I think I’d better enjoy what I’ve got, ‘cause one day, I’m gonna miss this!