Friday, July 27, 2007

Thanks for the wake up call... Embracing Insomnia

A neighbor's party woke me at 2:30 this morning.

We live in Studentville, USA, so it wasn't an unprecedented event. But July is usually a slow month for Thursday night (um, Friday morning) alcohol-inspired noise fests. I wasn't expecting it.

While I do have five kids, aged 3-15, they are mostly past the nightly-parent-waking stage (sharing dreams good and bad, asking for a glass of water, shrieking when a housefly invades a bedroom...)

And everyone has been healthy lately. We haven't hosted a moonlight tag-team vomiting competition in many months. Thank G-d.

So when the post-midnight festivities got out of hand last night, I was a bit out of practice. Luckily, the lessons learned from years of on-the-Mom-job training kicked in immediately. It was like falling off a bicycle; you never forget how to do it.

I know when a night's sleep is shot. And I know better than to fight a wounded sleep.

My strategy is to let a shot sleep die with dignity. Rather than attempting resuscitation, I fast-forward the grieving process, moving as quickly as possible to acceptance.

The trick is to eschew any hope of going back to sleep. Once I accept my involuntary awakened state, I embrace insomnia as an unexpected (and thankfully, rare) visit from a good friend. I can do this, because I remember:

Nothing is as efficient as a mother with a found hour.
I defy any veteran Air Traffic Controller or seasoned White House Events Coordinator to match the productivity of a mother with a cancelled medical appointment. With the focus of a laser beam, she will carve more errands and phone calls from that hour than they could list on their color-coded Gantt charts.

And if the impromptu hour of slack falls on a Friday morning, watch in awe as she choreographs a complex ballet of accomplishment: A chorus of appliances - laundry machines, oven timers, bread machines, standing mixers, and laser printers - humming in harmony, with the challah dough rising in the foreground. All while she's on hold with the insurance company, changing a diaper, closing the refrigerator with her foot.

Professionals make it look so easy.

In the middle of the night, however, the devices enlisted must be quiet, in order to let the rest of the family sleep. Yet there are still plenty of opportunities to be my own elf - to do vital favors for the sleepy person I'll be in the morning.

In the wee hours this morning I showered and got dressed, tidied and inventoried personal care supplies, discovered that we're down to the second-to-last container of my favorite toothpaste, caught up on 15% of overburdened Google feed reader, filed 3" of benign paperwork backlog, and started this blog post.

I spent about two hours writing and rewriting lists in my little notebook, and generally 'emptied my head.' It was cathartic and refreshing. I reveled in being able to finish a sentence in my own mind.

As I ordered my favorite toothpaste on-line, a wave of gratitude engulfed me. I realized that I have been my car only once in the past three weeks. I love the Internet.

During the school year, I often quip that I need to buy that bumper sticker that says:
If I'm such a stay-at-home Mom, why am I always in the car?

Sandwiched between the academic year-end frenzy of June and the September's dramatic double onslaught of the Jewish holidays and the return to school, summer is our oasis.

During the school year, our calendar is stuffed overfull with obligations and commitments. In the Summer, we luxuriate in extending or cancelling activities, subject to the whims of the weather and our moods. In Winter, we march to time's drumbeat. In Summer, time is our languid dance partner.

My answering machine has zero saved messages. I love summer vacation.

Summer does come with open windows, however. Through those open windows came the party noises that woke me last night. It's a package deal.

So, thank you, dear youthful neighbors, for giving me a few moments to meditate on the good fortune that allows my family to enjoy our unstructured summer schedule. Thank you for your gift of an unscheduled pause to appreciate of the blessings of the Internet. Thank you for the few hours of sleepy solitude.

I hope you found this morning's construction workers' 7:15 a.m. jack-hammering just as inspiring as your nocturnal celebrations were for me. Perhaps it gave you time to introspect on the deeper significance of a hangover. Maybe you found this an opportune time to sweep the street of the glass from the bottles that broke as your guests departed at 4 a.m.

I smile when thinking of the City of Boston's gift to both of us: the opportunity for you to share this moring's spectacular sunrise with me.

Have a great morning.

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