Finding Slow Amid Fast

It’s 10:30 p.m. as I write this, a good hour after I had intended to be asleep. The boys were both up at 5:30 this morning and, after busy days both yesterday and today plus too many too-late nights, I’m desperately tired. But Connor is asleep next to me and I don’t want to move him just yet.

When I left work tonight the sky was almost dark – the sort of fading light that comes right before the sun disappears entirely until morning. By the time I wound my way around the roads and through traffic and reached home it was dark dark. Inky blackness all around, with only the lights from cars and street lamps showing the way.

snowy field

This is the way it is now. The sun is just finishing waking up as I leave in the mornings, its rays stretching, reaching out to tinge the clouds with golden pink. My boys are finishing their morning rituals as I exit the house – eating the last few bites of breakfast, choosing clothes for the day, brushing teeth.

When I pull my car into the driveway at night the sun is gone. By the time I get home the boys are finishing dinner and are ready to start heading to bed. We reverse the morning’s routine—getting undressed, putting pyjamas on, brushing teeth—and then the day is done. The night has come. It’s somehow even darker than before, and quiet.

I walked the dog tonight – late enough and dark enough that it felt as though I shouldn’t have to go out again. And it was cold, the kind that bites at your cheeks and leaves them red. It was snowing, and the flakes looked like silver glitter falling from the sky, slowly falling and twirling. But when I caught them with my camera they appeared to whizz, like shooting stars, determined and fast. It felt like an apt metaphor for my days: I’m slowly moving, dancing, twirling, but when I stop to look I realize how fast the days go by.

snow flying in the dark

With the dog walked and one more thing checked off my list, I came back inside and got ready for tomorrow—tidying and making lunch and checking to-do lists—before sitting on my bed with a cup of hot chocolate and my laptop. It’s quiet here, just the way I like it after a day at work, and my LED-light candles glow in the corner.

I suspect that’s what attracted Connor, and why he is now asleep next to me.

LED candles in the darkness

He made a request earlier for a pyjama party with mama and the glowing candles, but Ethan wiggled at bedtime and needed extra cuddles and Connor was in bed by the time I was done. Tomorrow night, I promised him. We’ll have a pyjama party and turn on the candles tomorrow.

The promise wasn’t good enough, apparently. I heard his door open and his small feet coming down the hall. He looked in slyly, expecting me to scoot him back to bed; I didn’t, and when he crawled up on the bed and put his head in my lap I knew he would go back to sleep.

So here I sit. I’ve shuffled him off my lap to get him under the covers and so I can tuck my own feet in, too. He’s nestled against me and if I listen hard I can hear his quiet breathing, but mostly he is silent. It’s a moment of slow in a life filled with fast. It’s unusual, and I relish it.

 

I’ve joined Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. Link up below!

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An Explanation, In Part

I can’t wait for the time when I will get night after night after subsequent night of uninterrupted sleep.

“One of the Georges - I forget which - once said that a certain number of hours´ sleep each night - I cannot recall at the moment how many - made a man something which for the time being has slipped my memory.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, Something Fresh

When does that happen?

 

Featured on Mamalode

My words have been published on a site I love today and I’m honoured to be there (even if my name is spelled wrong in the image – to be fixed!).

Maybe you’ve read them here before, but would you come and read them now when they’re featured on Mamalode? Pretty please?

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Grey Skies and Runaway Trains

It rained yesterday.

We don’t get a lot of rain here. We get snow, which is mostly accompanied by brilliant sunshine, but grey skies are rare. It’s one of the reasons I love living here.

Last week spring made a valiant effort to overtake winter. The sun shone, the temperature rose, and the mounds of snow by the sides of the roads melted. I was living in the sunshine and loving it. But over the last few days the skies have turned grey.

train wreck circa 1900

Click for image source

Life is not always sunny, of course. But for me it has been sunny more often than not, and I’ve been able to pause in those catch-your-breath moments and really soak it in. But my ability to see the sun can disappear as quickly as the sun itself.

I don’t function when I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m not getting enough sleep. And I’m losing hope that I will suddenly, miraculously start getting enough. After a long week followed by a couple of rough nights, the rain entered my life yesterday – both literally and metaphorically.

I’ve been here before and I know exactly where this sleep deprivation road leads. And I have no desire to take that path again. I don’t want to feel that way and I don’t want to have to say, Actually, it happened again the second time too. 

I want, with every fibre of my being, to be able to push the emergency button and make this runaway train stop. But I’m feeling the desperation an engineer must feel when he knows the train is going to hit something in the tracks. It’s there, it’s in front of me, and the momentum feels like too much right now. It’s bigger than me and I’m not in control of the outcome.

I was hoping today would be better, but instead I woke up to snow. It’s time to hit the brakes.

Wish me luck.

2:40 a.m.

“Goodnight,” I say, kissing him. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Then a whispered plea. Please sleep.

The chances of him sleeping from this 2:40 a.m. tuck-in until morning are next to none. The chances of him sleeping until 5 a.m. are…okay. I give it even odds. But he’s not likely to get to even 6 a.m. before waking up.

Which means I’m going to be waking up. Again.

I haven’t had more than four hours of sleep in a row since the beginning of October. And that’s rare. Really rare. Sometimes I get three in a row (more often lately – fingers crossed) but too often it’s two hours between wake-ups, or two and a half if I’m lucky.

As we enter this sixth month with Ethan, I now know with much greater certainty that sleep deprivation was a huge contributor to my PPD with Connor. I look back and wish we had done something different, but I honestly don’t know what that would have been. We tried everything.

We tried a night of bottles so I could sleep when Connor was three months old, after which he refused to take a bottle for months as if punishing me for wanting to sleep. It was after that option was taken away—that one thing that would let me sleep sometimes instead of having to feed him—that I started to feel like I was going to die. From exhaustion. From desperation. From despair.

I don’t have that issue this time, thank goodness. I started to feel those same feelings of being desperate for sleep, thinking about it all the time, wondering how long it will last this time, and I asked for help. I can’t do it again, and luckily I have a husband who’s at home and can get up with the kids in the mornings so I can sleep just a little bit more.

So I’m not desperate. I’m not in despair.sleep-quote

I am feeling it, though. I stood in front of a shelf in the grocery store last week for at least 10 minutes before I was able to choose an item and put it in my cart. My brain just wasn’t processing.

I’m clumsy. I walk into things a lot and am always sporting a bruise or three. My synapses just aren’t connecting.

I stood in front of the toaster the other day waiting for it to pop and then realized I hadn’t put any bread in. The next day I managed to make toast for myself, but then without thinking I cut it into four squares the way Connor likes it. My neurons are firing, but perhaps not quite in the right order. (But that’s okay; toast in little squares is actually pretty good.)

I spend a lot of time looking at Ethan these days. I’m soaking him in. Breathing in his smell and imprinting the rolls of his thighs on my fingers. I want to remember what his baby laugh sounds like and appreciate the gift of watching a person learn to navigate the world. He will be our last baby and there are many things about that fact that leave me a bit teary.

But the lack of sleep isn’t one of them. When my brain rebels against wakefulness and my eyelids refuse to stay open I remember: It’s the last time. I won’t have to do this again.

I want it to be over, this quest for sleep over which I have no real control.

But at least I know this: It’s the last time.