Sweet Dreams

When the kids go to bed, I usually have a lot of big plans that involve my being organized, efficient, and basically in control of my household.  I’m going to pick up toys, whisk through the living room and kitchen, maybe even fold a load of laundry.  Then I plan on sitting down with a good book or perhaps some of my needlework.

That never happens.

First of all, my older kids are sixteen and seventeen.  They often stay up later than I do.  However, their staying up late usually involves homework done in the privacy of their own rooms, where they think I don’t know that they sometimes play videogames or text their friends.  Hey, as long as they keep their grades up and I don’t smell anything that brings back 1980’s flashbacks for me, I don’t bother them.

My youngest fights bedtime.  One more snack, one more drink, one more trip to the potty.  Another drink, another story.  Turn off the dolphin lamp so we can see the glow-in-the-dark stars on the walls and ceiling.  Turn the dolphin lamp back on because Little Man is scared of the dark.  One more story, followed by my stirring rendition of Casey at the Bat, and his eyes finally close just as I intone “mighty Casey has struck out.”

By that point, I am done.

Besides, I am a morning person.  That’s not to say that I wake up cheerful.  Oh, Lordy, no.  I’m awake and functioning, but not very happy about it until I’ve been moving for a half-hour or so.  Definitely not before I’ve downed at least a cup or two of coffee.

But if I’m going to accomplish anything at all during my day, it needs to be done in the morning.  Cheerful or not, I am just more productive during the first part of the day.  Regardless of how long my to-do list is, things that aren’t done before noon are most likely not going to be done at all.

It’s not that I’m lazy.  I just . . . run out of steam.  Not really tired, either.  I just lose the will to go the extra mile in anything.  Hell, I don’t even want to go the extra ten paces.

Don’t get me wrong.  I can come home from work and burn my way through a list of daily tasks like nobody’s business. Make the supper, clean it up, check the backpacks, play some board games with the Little Man, pretend that I’m smart enough to help the older two with their homework while they humor me by asking questions they already know the answers to.   Make sure Little Man does his homework (homework in first grade?!) and then toss him into the bathtub and hope he comes out remotely clean.

So by the time he’s finally asleep, I have no desire to do anything.  Unfortunately, that’s the point where I get stupid.

Guys, I have become my mother.

I might grab the baby quilt I’m working on, although the intended recipient is almost ready for pre-school.  At this rate, it will be finished in time for her to give it to her own babies.  Possibly her grandbabies.

Or I’ll grab a book.  Right now, I’m working my way through Lucky, by Alice Sebold.

I might even decide to watch a little TV, although I have to admit that I have almost no idea of what’s on any more.  I’m so used to watching Disney Channel with Little Man that I haven’t even figured out the channels here.  Okay, so we’ve lived here for six months; that should give a pretty good idea of just how rarely I get to choose what we’re going to watch.

And that, my friends, is when it happens.  That’s when Mom comes back and takes over.  Because I sit on the couch with my feet propped up, all wrapped up and cozy in my favorite afghan, and I slip quietly into my coma in a matter of minutes.   Every once in a while, one of the older kids will wander through the living room and give me a nudge.

“Wake up and go to bed, Mother,” they will say, their voices practically dripping with disgust.

I wake up just enough to apologize and mumble an excuse.  Somewhere in the back of my drowsy brain, I remember my mother doing the exact same thing every night, while my sisters and I would try to wake her.

“Wake up and go to bed, Mother,” we would say, our voices practically dripping with disgust.

I don’t know why I don’t just go to bed as soon as Little Man is down for the night.  After all, I’m usually asleep about ten minutes after he is.

Finally, after a couple of hours of uncomfortable, crick-in-the-neck-inducing sleep on the couch, I’ll lurch to my feet, check the locks and turn off the porch light.  I shuffle across the living room and into my room to collapse on my bed, dragging my afghan with me like some twisted female version of Linus and his blanket.  Then I snuggle in, warm and cozy in my big, soft, comfortable bed.

Wide awake.

***

This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday, in which writers and bloggers finish a sentence and “link up” their posts. This week’s sentence was “When the kids go to bed, I…”  

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Space

It’s 2:39 and I can’t go to sleep

There’s too much space.

How can someone so big be so small?

Balanced, hugging the pillow

You make eye contact with the wall

While I count each turn of the ceiling fan.

The space between us holds so much

We sleep wounded and wake up afraid

Share morning coffee and a kiss

With a good-bye and I-love-you.

We survive our day dreading our night

To lay in silence once more

Connecting with walls and ceiling fans

With too much space between us.

It’s 2:39 and I can’t go to sleep

Because of all that space.