on being tired: kryptonite

Buster has decided that it's time to move into a toddler bed. More on that soon, hopefully.

He's been waking up at 4:15 am, like clockwork, for almost 2 weeks now. He isn't fussing, whining, or moaning in the way adults do when their alarms go off and they're half-snoring, half-crying to the heavens, "sweet Lord, sweet chubby Baby Jesus, please no, just please let me sleep." 

He isn't trying to bridge the gap to 1 or, if there is a merciful God in heaven, 2 or 3 more sleep cycles. He's up. He's giggling. He jumps on Chicken's bed, giggles and squeals of pure delight bubbling out from around his binky, as frothy and bottomless as if he were faking a seizure on a prison bus with Harrison Ford. I wait until Chicken starts moaning the aforementioned "sweet Lord, sweet chubby Baby Jesus" moans, and then I go in to get Buster.

4:25 am. Wheeeeeeee!

I'm tired. 
Deeply tired.

By the time we need to leave to take Chicken to school, three things have happened:
1. I've been up for four hours. 
2. I'm four coffees deep. 
3. I'm googling, "8 am fettuccine alfredo delivery Seattle."

By the time we get home from dropping Chicken off at school, three things have happened:
1. Buster has fallen asleep in the car. How convenient. I would wake him up out of spite, but I want him to sleep so I can eat a loaf of bread standing up in the kitchen, with only the crackle of the crust and the wet smacking of my jaws to disturb the silence.
2. I've accepted, begrudgingly, that nobody has opened a 24-hour pasta delivery service since yesterday, but I did get that loaf of bread tho.
3. I've accepted that I will spend the rest of the day not doing the things I need to do, and then hating myself for not getting anything done. 

By the time it's actually lunch time, I've been awake for 8 hours. Three things have happened:
1. Nothing, on the laundry front. Fuck it.
2. Nothing, on the cooking front. Fuck it.
3. Nothing, on the writing front. Fuck it. 

But I have gotten another coffee. Just to get me through.

By the time I get the boys down for afternoon quiet time, three things have happened.
1. I've been up for 11 hours.
2. The kitchen is full of bread crumbs and the oatmeal bowls from breakfast that I managed to run some water in, but have gone no further because what am I, Superman?
3. I've made a list of things I want to get done today. 

Sample list:

does anyone else think it's hilarious
that i was like
"i can definitely handle
a post office experience.
i'm going to write it down
and that way i'll have to go!"
i could just
and throw this paper
in the garbage
or rather
in the full paper bag
that is sitting on top
the garbage can
that is also

4:15 am, you guys. It's kryptonite.

When B isn't pulling kryptonite on me, I feel like Superman, so used to handling my shit and everyone else's that I take it for granted, and then put on my glasses and say, "who, me? Shucks, I'm just a regular person, like all y'all." I feel like all of my friends are this person, too - miraculously capable, but undercover about it.

Right now I feel like Superman the day he woke up and was like, "I'm faster than a locomotive!" And his toddler was like, "not today, motherfucker." And Superman got flattened by that locomotive. And his toddler was like, "check the score board, Kal-El." 

At least, as a parent of almost four years, I am able to recognize that this sleepless kryptonite is miserable but temporary. It will not be like this forever. It will not be like this forever. It will not be like this forever. 

I haven't been writing because usually what I do is:

1. I watch my kids.
2. I write down the hilarious/insightful/interesting shit they say and do.
3. I think about it for awhile.
4. Something pops into my head. "That reminds me of..." or "What could that mean..."
5. I write a blog post about it. It takes a couple of hours, and then I read it aloud, and then I spend another half an hour or so making sure it's pretty much what I want, and then I publish it. It's a blog. Part of the beauty of it is that it doesn't have to be polished.

But with this kryptonite, this exhaustion as invisible and unwavering as gravity, what I do is:

1. I sit on the couch.
2. My kids play nicely until they don't, at which point I separate them and return to the couch.
3. I check my phone.
4. I think, "I haven't blogged in awhile. But I can't think of anything to write about. Maybe I'm a fraud. Maybe I'm a hack. Maybe I'm weak-willed and phoney. Holden Caulfield would hate my guts. Is there a blog post in this? No. Nobody cares what Holden Caulfield would think of you. Ya big phoney."
5. I yawn.

It's not the my children become less interesting; it's that I cannot see or hear them. It's not that the laundry has grown; it's that I spend my time quietly measuring the items that need washing, rather than heaping them into the machine in brisk, colorized handfuls.

Tired is kryptonite. Your sharp vision is blurry. Your kindness grows thorns because it takes so much less work to be prickly. The things that you can normally do are beyond you. People turn to you for help and you have to say, "I can't. I'm weak right now. I'm hurting. I can barely keep my head above water for long enough to steal a breath before I go under again, where it's muffled and dim."

Fun fact about kryptonite: The reason Superman is super on Earth is not because he's endowed with divinity - Krypton is much larger than Earth, and has a greater gravitational pull. Superman is super because he's got a drag suit and ankle weights in his DNA.

The reason we're normally capable isn't because we're gods. We've simply chosen a life that gives us a drag suit and ankle weights, every day, forever. I always tell new moms that babies don't get easier but parents get harder. We're operational athletes, so accustomed to the hurdles and exertion and actual physical pain of parenting that it feels strange to go to the grocery store without at least one baby in your cart or on your chest. You check your handbag. I feel like something's missing. I'm too light. 

We find ways to make it work, to be the person we need to be for our families, for our colleagues, for our friends and parents.

We rise and work the whole day until we fall into bed and then get out of bed because we forgot to pack Chicken's lunch for tomorrow and while we're up we might as well wipe down the cabinet fronts because the kids were flinging oatmeal this morning which - okay - was what it was, but we had to put a stop to that once Chicken crowed, "I'm flunging!" and we were like, "baby, it's flinging." And he was like, "No, I'm flunging," and we were like, "THAT IS NOT GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT," so at 9:45 pm we're picking dried oatmeal off the cabinets and googling "flunging" to see if it's a word because Chicken seemed real sure, but no, it's not, SUCK IT, and now the sandwich is made (no mayo, no mustard, just ketchup) and the strawberries are sliced (circles, not wedges) and the little fox ice pack is nestled next to the yogurt, and then we really fall into bed and that's when we start thinking about all the shit we didn't get done today and it's only a matter of time before we fall asleep and our last conscious thoughts are, "I wish I were better."

And then Buster starts waking up at 4:15 am.

The center cannot hold, you know? Not when kryptonite is on the table.

The first thing to go is patience for your spouse. I say hi, and Ryan's like, "what is that supposed to mean?" And I'm like, "what are you hiding?" And he's like, "why don't you trust me?" And I'm like, "I can't talk about this right now." And he's like, "fine." #soulmates

Then you stop listening to your children. Chicken asked me if cars could fly and I said, "sure, baby," and he got so excited that I tuned back into the conversation and said, "wait, what did you just ask me?" And he asked me again, with eyes shining so bright they could blind commuters at the right angle, and I said, "oh. No. Nope. No way. Sorry, baby. I... misunderstood the question. But, uh... airplanes are kind of like flying cars. They have wheels... and stuff."

Then the house work goes to the dogs. Actually, I wish to the dogs. My floor would be way cleaner if I had a pack of dogs hanging out. I could put one on the counter. And one in the bathtub. If I smeared my whole house with BBQ sauce my shit would be dinner party-ready.

Then you start to resent everyone who needs from you.

Then you eat a lot of crap and drink too much coffee and cry listening to a song about forgiveness.

Then, someday, the baby starts to sleep later. Maybe one morning it's 5 am. Maybe, oh ecstasy, it's 5:30.

You start popping the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher before you head out.
You start texting your spouse again. You say hi, and he says, "hey," with a smiley face.
You reach out to a friend with a new baby and ask if she needs dinner tonight. You're making ziti and it's really no trouble to double the recipe. Not today, it's not.
You look at your child and see, for the first time, the mole that has appeared on the back of his hand.
You think about it for awhile.

I'm not there yet - Buster is still the locomotive dragging our powerless lives through the mud. But it will not be like this forever. It will not be like this forever. It will not be like this forever.

Someday I will write a blog post that doesn't read like four different blog posts that I quilted together with hasty segues and a half-baked metaphor. But it's 9:02 pm and that means it's 2 minutes past my bedtime.

OH! Real quick before I go, I wanted to share this parenthetically related piece of inspiration for anyone who is being pressed flat by the exponential gravitational pull of kryptonite today. A coda, if you will.

Last night, as I was tucking Chicken in for bed:

Me: I love you, baby.
Him: Me too. I mean, you too. I mean, I love you.
Me: Thank you, baby. That's nice.
Him: Thank you, Mommy.
Me: For what?
Him: Just for everything.

I'm going to assume that he didn't settle on the vaguest possible response to my question because he was merely repeating what I said and panicked when I called him out, like a middle schooler who answers "the seeds of democracy" to any question the history teacher could possibly ask.

I'm going to assume that by "just for everything," he meant, "I see how hard your job is, and how long your hours are, and how you put your heart into giving our family more than just what it needs to survive. I see how you take a deep breath and say, 'okay!' when I ask if we can go to the Children's Museum today. I know you don't feel like it. I know you do things that you don't want to do, all day long, every day. I know that everything - EVERYTHING - is more work than it should be. I know you don't pick your head up to think about how many steps go into a simple operation like "bath" or "getting from the car to the front door of the school," because if you picked your head up and thought about all those steps you wouldn't be able to do anything at all but surrender. Thank you, for somehow doing everything. I love you. I'm not going to murder anyone when I get older."


Post a Comment