I have lost the skill to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and function.
I used to be a pro at this when my kids were babies, I barely needed my eyes open. I would hear those cries on the monitor and pop up. I would walk directly into the kitchen, pull three bottles out of the drawer, pour in just the right amount of formula from the pitcher in the fridge and bound up the stairs to the crying baby or babies as the case was.
But that was years ago.
Over the course of these years, the nighttime wakings have been less and less and less until there were none.
Please don’t be jealous if you still have little ones waking in the night. This process didn’t come easy. It took years, years, for all four of my children to sleep through the night.
Just like any skill, if you don’t use it, you loose it.
While I was on bedrest with the triplets, a friend of mine taught me how to knit. I spent hours sitting in my bed knitting what were suppose to be scarves but turned out more like sleeping bags for snakes. Long and thin and some how doubled over on itself. It wasn’t until my friend gave me a simple pattern for baby hats that I actually was able to create something useful. Jake, Quinn and Claire wore those hats to keep their little head warm right after they were born.
But ask me to sit down and knit now?
The only thing that I can do now with those knitting needles and yarn is make knots that tie up my fingers and occasionally poke myself in the leg.
This is kind of how my talent of being able to function in the wee hours of the morning left me.
I used to not have to hold my hands out in front of me to walk across my bedroom in the dark. I used to know the path. Now, however, when I am surrounded by dark, if I don’t put my hands out first that means I will most likely end up with a bloody nose or sore boobs since those are the things that tend to hit the wall first when I run into it.
I wish that I could say that I don’t miss my talent of functioning in the middle of the night. I wish that I never had to rely on these tricks again but sadly, that is not the case.
I live with children.
The reason for these visits can vary from the need to announce to someone that pee must be made to the occasional bad dream about a vampire blood sucking cat, thank you Frankenweenie, to the ‘I just need a hug’ at 2am.
Claire is usually the offender.
She walks down from her room and talks to me about this that and the other thing. I am so not a wake and non-functioning when this happens that I usually just pat her on the head and turn over to go back to sleep.
The guilt of this rips through me that in the morning, I add a little extra cash to her ‘therapy fund’ where I can only imagine one day she will say to her therapist, “And I was so scared about that shadow in the corner of my room and my mom just didn’t care. She pat me on the head like some dog and left me to deal with my fears myself. What kind of mother does that?!”
If this is not enough, she has her ways to wake up fully. Sometimes she uses creepy to seduce me awake.
This usually happens when I am not quiet fully asleep. You know that state where you have an ‘awake dream’ based on the last thing you saw on TV or read. You are sleeping but it’s not that deep, dead to the world drool sliding down your chin, sleep.
It is during these times that Claire chooses to just stand there and look at me. She is just tall enough to rest her chin on my bead, we got the very tall model of our bed… it is so tall that Jeff, who is shorter than me, needs to use a step stool to get in it, and stare at me.
I was having a particularly active dream. There was a large pink bunny and a clown casing me, trying to get me to wear a bikini. This was terrifying because a) I don’t really have the body type for a bikini and b) it is cold here in the Midwest and I have retired my razor for the season meaning my membership into the ‘Sasquatch Club of America’ was in full effect.
I thought that I had lost them. If I just kept my eyes closed, no one could find me.
But I could feel eyes boring into me. I knew they were close and that I could be shoved into that bikini. I stuck my courage to the sticking place and readied myself for battle. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
“Mommy” as small whisper cut through my revved up brain but didn’t registrar.
I opened my eyes only to be met with two big eyes, peering at me.
“OH MY GOD!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, pushing those eyes away and launching myself onto Jeff’s side of the bed, waking him.
Jeff has not lost the ability to function right upon waking. He doesn’t always choose to use this special talent but it’s there none the less.
“Jen! Jen! It’s Claire,” he said trying to protect his manhood from my flailing legs.
All at once as if my brain unzipped itself from the whacked out effects of my dream and I became aware of what was going on. I reached out to pat her on the head.
“Mommy,” she began very matter-of-factly, “the cats were in my room and I couldn’t get them out but they are both here now, good night.”
With that, she ran out of the room, leaving me to wonder if her walking in on us having sex would have been less traumatic than this whole episode.