You stay up too late now.
The house is so quiet after all. There is a peaceful stillness about it as if it is in a state if rest too. Besides, you feel so much more productive with nary a chance of being interrupted. The ten-to-eleven hour is your most golden. It is then your hands brim with creativity, your machine gallops the fastest over printed cloth, your newest and freshest thoughts come the most rapidly. There is something about giving your brain a quiet resting period that allows shiny thoughts to pop to the surface like an effervescent glass of champagne.
You find yourself alone and it is glorious. You pluck, you preen, you scrub, you clean, you bake, you watch that show you can’t stop thinking about. This is your best hour. This is you, uninterrupted.
You wind down slowly too. You take your time, savoring the luxury of a schedule on your demands. You draw a hot bath. You read two extra chapters in that new novel. You put pen to paper and just write.
Sometimes you stay up so late you find you need another bite of food to guarantee a restful night free of pangs. Just a small wedge of cheese with some crackers, you promise yourself. But you always slip in some dark chocolate chips because it feels good to eat in silence and without the constant inquiries about the contents of your mouth.
As the hour wanes, you check on your sleeping chicks one last time like a fussy mother hen. Tucking in blanket corners, adjusting fan speeds, kissing sweaty foreheads. You imagine there is nothing more peaceful than a slumbering child. “What do they fear?” , you wonder. “What ails them as they drift off?”
Finally, having exerted your last rites of creativity, savored the fruits of relaxation, and gathered your chicks beneath you, you, too, slip beneath the sheets.
It is there you soon discover your body is at rest but your mind isn’t. Your thoughts drift immediately to your phone. You linger over Instagram. You chase rabbit trail after rabbit trail. It doesn’t matter where you end up, you just enjoy the process of getting lost.
At last your eyelids have become heavy. The lights are out and you allow them at last to close. You have purposely drawn these last minutes out in the hopes that sleep will abide you quickly, but rarely does it. There are grocery lists to think through, imaginary meals to pack, clothes to pick out, and arbitrary fears to work through. Half of a mother’s work is done on her pillow at night.
As these lists are checked, you find your breathing at last to temper and you know sleep will be upon you soon.
But what’s that? You startle to a noise in the next room. Just a cough. Your eyes close again.
And then suddenly you start from the bed. It feels as if you were moving even before the sound pricked your ears. You are the only one who has heard it but no doubt there is a little voice crying for you. You rush before the little voice becomes large.
There, there. Little voice is soon quiet and you return to your bed to start the process over again.
But now your heart is racing and your breath is uneven. Your body is wired to do this. The thought of 3am used to make your stomach turn. Now it willingly, obediently rises at the midnight, 2, and 6am calls. It is in those desperate hours you feel the adrenaline coursing through you, propelling you forward because surely you don’t have any energy left in reserve.
This potent serum was a necessity at one time, but now, a year later, it is a curse. It will be another hour before you are fully asleep. That is, if you are not needed again. You are a mother now and this is your bedtime.