Its a reality of midlife and motherhood that you are less likely to see 2:42 AM for vodka than for…well…midlife or motherhood, or both
Maybe you had a date night with your husband that involved driving 1.5 hours through a lightening storm to go to a sportbar to watch the fourth preseason game with hometown fans. He is a peach to do this for you, and will be justly rewarded. Later. Like when you don’t need your pillow more than anything else.
Tuesday night it was a stomach ache. Not yours.
Wednesday night it was a cat peeing on the bed. Sadly, yours. (Cat and bed)
Now it is Thursday and this is the turning point. Your bed has a fresh sheet (thanks to the peeing cat) your alarm is not set, you are closing in on a holiday weekend. You have the all clear to sleep, sleep sleep.
Then at 2:46 you wake up abruptly. Its not the gently wave of a changing sleep cycle which you will be able ride back into dreamland (where you were oddly composing a pop song with cats). It was a thunk. Like a body falling from a height. But after the thunk you hear footsteps. You wait the appropriate amount of time for a flush to come, and returning footsteps. But there is silence.
You probably imagined the entire thing. Steve is sleeping on his good ear so he is no use here. The best thing to do for everyone is to go back to sleep. The tendrils wind around, bringing you back to the electronica cat song. Meow. But no. The small hours of morning are when you provide your most involved mothering. It is some sort of biology, something primal and protective, something about aging, and a time soon where this will be your most productive hours. You will be a shuffling shell tomorrow. But tonight you are ON DUTY.
You check your older son’s room first. He is always the first to sleep and the first awake. Sometimes the first awake by a large number unrestful number of hours. You have pulled him out of blanket tents on couches, out from under beds, and of course off of the computer keyboard in hours that start with 2s and 3s and 4s. Not this morning. This morning his still small toes are visible poking out of his soft blanket in his loft bed. You wait and watch. Maybe he has an ipad in there. Or a book. But the breathing is slow and regular. Like you want to be breathing. Next room. Both the mean and the deaf cat have joined you on your investigation. Your younger son’s room is ridiculously neat. So neat that you can instantly see that his bed is empty.
Down the stairs the three of your go, mean cat weaving through legs trying her best to have you trip down the curved stairs for some early morning amusement. You are on a mission. You will not tumble.
You find him behind the guest room door, sweet face illuminated by the blue light of the computer.
“I just can’t sleep” he tells you.
“Right you little turd, you tried for about a nano second and then decided that minecraft would be a lot more fun than sleeping so you ruined the night and most likely the weekend for me, and if it is ruined for me inevitably it will be ruined for you. 2:46 my ass.” you don’t reply.
“I’m so sorry sweetie, lets get you back to bed.”
“Can I sleep in here?” he asks, all fake innocent as if the proximity to the computer and distance from my bedroom are not a factor in his question.
“The bed is so much better in here.”
So you do the logical things and remove department stores worth of pillows and tuck him in. Pausing at the door you understand that this is all about to be for nothing. So you loop back and jam yourself between his body and the wall.
You try to concentrate on the cool steady feeling of the century old plaster wall instead of the sweaty little heater beside you, or the allergy producing furry skeleton on your chest. Or the little fluffy thing biting your toe.
You breathe slowly counting your breathe just like medihation. An ambulance outside wakes the boy and the cat, one who snuggles in closer, the other who snuffles and then hacks cat spittle into your face. It is late and later now. Deep into the threes.
Its our less vital version of a lifeboat. Only one of you will make it to morning rested. And you are a middle aged mom.
So the choice is clear.