It was 12:15 am and my 11 year old was still awake. He came into our room, crawled into our bed, and wanted to talk about why he couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t upset, he just couldn’t turn off his mind. The content up in there, wow, it’s VIVID. Anyway, Husband grunted and rolled out. The man needs at least 7 hours of sleep or he turns into a toddler. Not good.
Me? Sometimes I feel like I’m Boy’s service animal. And my feelings about that are complicated. What’s not complicated, though, is that this child is the JOY of my life.
I gave Boy a few minutes to summarize the ideas and anticipations flying around in his head, then I held his hand and modeled the relaxation breathing he’s still learning to help slow down his wide awake thoughts. I reminded him to try to think about just one thing – one concrete, joyful thing – as he breathed. I know so well that goddamn wide awake mind experience, and even though I desperately needed my own day to be over, I just can’t turn my back on this kid when nighttime is hard. It didn’t take long. Soon I felt the rhythm of his breath move to calm, predictable, shallow, and I detected a couple of those little boy twitches he still has when he’s falling asleep. I kissed his forehead and smelled his freshly washed hair, brushed it over to the side with my fingers, stroked his cheek. There’s nothing as beautiful as a sleeping child. Sacred.
And then I was wide awake myself until 3am, way up in my own wild mind. There’s not enough relaxation breathing in the whole wide world to knock me out on nights like this one, especially when I’ve been near sleep and then awake again, as I often am, but still, I try. It’s not always Boy, not at all, it’s also menopause and a thing I affectionately refer to these days as my mental load. It takes a toll sometimes. Maybe that’s why the cardiac nurse in Atlanta thought I was my 45 year old sister’s mother. Her MOTHER! Oy. That one still hurts, but I’m trying to laugh it off – along with so many other things – so I don’t crawl into a hole and never, ever come out.