The Curious Incident of the Blog in the Nighttime
I often find myself staring at this screen, typing into the DtEC blog editing tool, late at night. On some level that doesn’t surprise me because I have always, always been a night owl. Whether I want it or not my brain likes to energize itself after dark. Consequently, getting up early is hell. I can *do* it when required in order to project a facade of adultness, but I really suck at it. What’s funny is that location, schedule, enjoyment of activity or even money make no difference. I spent a summer being paid to work in a theatre, live in the mountains and do nothing but act and live the good life. And I STILL hated dragging my ass out of bed for an 8 AM start. Lest you think this is a product of a permissive or neglectful upbringing, let me set the record straight.
My mom is very, very big into sleeping at night and being a productive member of society from 8 AM onward. Morning is morning. I rather thought my dad had the right idea; be a cop, work crappy hours, then sleep in the basement with tinfoil over the windows. Of course I can see now working third shift and raising kids at the same time probably sucked, not the least of which was that we turned his basement window well into a soccer goal and I was a shit goalie. The man didn’t sleep more than four hours at a time from 1984-1987. Still, working at night and sleeping in the day just looks right to me. It’s no different than clothes or music. Everyone has their taste and everyone secretly hates everyone else’s taste.
My husband, bless him, embraces my night owlish lifestyle. He also aids and abets me in hiding it from my mom. If I nap, sleep late, get out of bed at 4 for a piddling reason like a housefire, my mother can be counted on to utter The Prophecy. The Prophecy is always delivered in a tone of warning and fear, with a dash of menace:
“Sarah, you’re getting your days and nights switched around!”
The Prophecy never varies in word choice or tone. It is delivered with an intensity hitherto reserved for sentences like “no, this IS the last plane out of Saigon.”
So you can understand how adopting the baby was the first time in my whole life my mother ever gave permission to sleep and work these weird hours. She even said to me “you sleep when the baby sleeps.” Holy cow! My mom just gave me carte blanche! I can be up til 3! I can nap at 6 pm! This is going to be the only time in my life I don’t harbor a secret disquietude my schedule shames my entire family!
This should have been a relief. Hell, it should have been a cakewalk. In my stunning naiveté I thought the baby would sleep. This is a LIE. It’s a lie sold to the American consumer by cradle companies and mobile manufacturers. I blame Hollywood. All these ads of little swaddled bundles, with eyes closed and adorable nostrils gently fluttering. Bullshit. Utter bullshit. I lived in the same room as Baby for 3 weeks and I can tell you he never did anything that resembled substantive sleep.
What did he do? He waited until Mac and I had a loose schedule so we could attempt to even think about sleeping. Then the baby would close his eyes and snuggle into his little sleepsack, looking adorable. He’d make a tiny cooing sound. A few minutes later, a squeak. “Oh!” we’d say. “He’s so precious!” we’d say. Then little bubbles. And another coo. I’d close my eyes. All is well.
Wait– was that the baby? Did he squirm? Was that the sleepsack? Then a slight shift of Baby’s head and I’d immediately run over to the crib, desperately trying to remember the 5 Warning Signs of SIDS, Proper Swaddling 101, the number to 911 (answer: 911) and wishing the Bat Signal was a real thing.
I’d finally feel reassured Baby was OK, these were all normal sounds, and then phbbt. Well now, what the hell was that? A burp? A fart? Is he gassy? Does he need drops? Can we even give him drops? Robin’s a nurse, I should text her about those drops. Crap, my phone is where Mac is trying to sleep.
Now I’m definitely not going to sleep. Yes, technically I should be, since Baby is sleeping, but what was the phbbbbbbt? Is he hungry? Angry? Snotty? I give up. I have to go look again. And there I am, trying hard to find the source of this stupid noise, when it occurs to me AJ said moms can hear their babies even when the babies aren’t really making any noise at all. Oh GREAT. The ink isn’t even dry on the adoption papers and I’ll be carted off to a rubber room because I hear phantom phbbbbbbts at…midnight? 3 pm? The year 2017? Time and space have no meaning now. I have been awake since the dawn of man.
Which is why it gives me such infinite, sublime pleasure to have my mother babysit for us overnight. Sure, it means eating my dinner at the temperature God intended and the possibility of sex with my husband (don’t be daft. This is a family blog. We don’t actually have sex, we talk about it then fall asleep while trying to grade assignments handed in last fall that we never got to). And of course, the baby is a little prince most of the time for his beloved grandma. But there is a palpable satisfaction to showing up the next day knowing that no matter how fussy, how colicky, how cranky our bundle of joy was ALL NIGHT LONG, I always have the option of saying
“well sorry, Mom. Just sleep when he sleeps.”