Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night it’s because it’s the first time I’ve had all day to actually think my own thoughts. Most of the day, I spend my time thinking about school schedules and making it to story time, snacks and baths and when the last time I offered them was, how to time the laundry so nothing gets left in the washer overnight but also avoids getting left to wrinkle in the laundry basket. I put together lesson plans, meal plans, find creative ways to keep the boys occupied, settle constant disputes over toys and water cups. I keep the toilet paper stocked and the cat box clean, sweep up dirt, wipe down counters, clear off table tops, remake beds, fold clothes, pick up toys and books to make usable space and paths to walk through, collecting dirty laundry, trash and erratic odds and ends as I go. I wipe up spilled milk and spilled snacks and pee. At night, when it’s quiet, it’s the first time all day that my mind has been let off it’s leash, free to roam around all the unexplored places.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night it’s because I’m laying in bed, eyes closed, a train of thoughts rushing at me eager to make its round before the track runs out. All my worries of the everyday race past. I worry that I didn’t spend enough meaningful time with each boy, that I woke up in a bad mood, that I don’t actually like my dog all that much. More mundane, homey things follow: dishes left in the sink, what to make for dinner tomorrow, how to go about cleaning the crud in the corners behind the toilet and what a gross chore that is. The creative ideas are the most fun: the lesson plans that put themselves together, the thoughts that finally connect, projects to do with the boys, ways to redecorate, beautifully passionate and inspired speeches to give to my students, ways to instill creativity and a love for the work. I can’t sleep because these perfectly worded sentences are flying through my brain and I think that I should get up and write them all down before they are gone forever. But I don’t. Because I am tired. Because I love sleep and I don’t get enough of it.
Tonight I broke the trend. I was so sure that I was going to get to bed early tonight. Imagined myself lovingly gathering the children into bed, all of us nodding off together at a nice respectable hour, never stirring until dawn. That is my dream. That is my fantasy, every night.
But here I am.
It isn’t all bad. Casey’s snoozing next to me, arms and hands covered in markers and dirt. We went back to the park this evening, just the two of us, to find his tiny multi-colored bouncy ball which he had rolled down the curly slide and then lost sight of, while at the park with his grandmother a few hours prior to our outing, causing a meltdown and a grief cycle that lasted until his dad got off of work at 6:45 and we could sneak away. In the mean time, I attempted a second rate magic trick, where I pulled a different bouncy ball, this one green and blue, from behind his ear. That set him off because he “liked the smaller ball with all the colors and that one is just an earth ball.” I can only be grateful that the universe daned to land his small, multi colored ball near the base of one of the smaller, less used slides, hiding it from view of any child with an inkling to make it their own.
Anyway, we did find the ball and even went out to eat at Casey’s request pushing dinner right into bedtime, which of course caused both boys to have a little more frenetic energy to dispel before they could calm themselves for sleep. So here we are. Casey snoring next to me because he simply couldn’t settle down in his own bed without a thousand sips of water and a few dozen wines that he “really wanted to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed.” (Actually, I’m a soft touch so it was probably more like 3 sips of water and 5 wines, but still.) And now I can’t sleep. I’ve devised three brilliant lesson plans, settled on two avenues of research for future projects, and imagined a perfectly timed out, creatively filled week, except I can’t actually think when that leaves me enough time to get all the things done that I have to do before next week. So I return to the worry train parked on track one and finally decided to simply get up and put my fingers to the keys. I had to use up my frenetic energy before I could calm myself enough to trick my body into sleep. We’ll see if it works. Goodnight.