Jack is a pretty good sleeper. He had been for a while. Charlie is doing alright also. He goes sometimes 4 or 5 hour stretches at night and is a decent cat napper during the day. He seems to pack in like 3 or 4 half hour naps, and is almost always asleep when we are on the move (in the car, stroller, etc). So, really, it’s not to far off from the ideal as far as sleep goes. The only real problem is where I am involved. I’ve been staying up much later than I should. I’ve been doing so under various self-justifications. Some are more valid than others. Sometimes I am working on a drawing and don’t want to wipe away the inspiration that only just dawned on me. Sometimes I am editing a project that has a deadline of tomorrow. Other times, though…well, I don’t think I needed to watch both Return of the Living Dead 1 and 2 the other night. But, hey, at least I stopped before 3 (just like the rest of the viewing public. Oh!).
I have lately felt this sense that I must maintain this schedule because I am, otherwise, missing out on life. I feel robbed of time if I am forced to retire before I am “ready” to. When, in reality, I am never truly ready to. I almost always feel as if I’m forced to go to sleep. Really, all this means is that I’m being selfish. I’m equating life to what I want to do, and that’s not how life is lived. Or at least that’s not how I live my life. Deeper than that, though, it means that I’m not moving forward. And if I’m not moving forward, then I’m falling back. My friend once told me that it’s not old behavior if you’re still doing it. That’s called “now behavior”.
For a little while whenever anyone would ask me “How’re are the kids?” or “How’s the new baby?” I’d react in one of two ways: Sometimes the plurality of the question “How are the kids?” would throw me. Oh yeah. I have two children. I have “kids”. That took a bit to get used to. More often than not, though, I’d usually find some way to complain. These complaints fell into the stereotypical categories that come part and parcel with having a newborn in the house. Usually they were lazy. Something along the lines of “Well, we’re not sleeping much.” Which was not only not terribly true, but it was counter to how I try to live my life. If I’m only focusing on the things that are wrong, then I’m looking past all the great things that surround me. I am no longer cultivating a sense of gratitude for everything in my life, not just the good. If this keeps up, then in no time my attitude starts to suck. I’m less of a pleasure to live with and everyone suffers. The awareness that I’m slipping is immensely powerful. It gives me the opportunity to look at my actions, take stock and redirect if necessary.
The way I like to look at things, the ways that works looks kind of like this: I am grateful that I am getting less sleep. I’m grateful that I get some form of poop on my hands on a regular basis. I’m grateful that my caffeine intake has skyrocketed. I’m grateful for all the good and the SEEMINGLY bad in my life. If I’m so readily willing to accept everything that’s great, I kind of have to accept all the bad and just deal with things as they come. Part of that is realizing that it’s all going as it should, and that because of that I should have gratitude for it all.
So, I get to go to sleep earlier than I want to. I get to, but that doesn’t mean that I’m exactly doing it. With most of the seemingly benign things in my life, I seem to have to experience a certain amount of personal pain before I am willing to make a change for the better. Therefore, I am likely to suffer a few more groggy days before my common sense catches up with my stubbornness and I start to just go to sleep earlier.
As always, there is more at work here than just my want to stay up later. There’s the fear of what lies ahead. In a way, staying up later is a microcosm of avoiding what comes next. What comes next is going to bed. What comes after that is waking up. What comes after that…WHO KNOW!?! Will this be a day where I don’t feel that great? Will Jack throw a tantrum or two today? Will Allison be stressed about something that I’m not doing right? Will the world collapse into itself, turn into a black hole and suck into it all of known creation?! I have no idea and that is kind of scary. The more I focus on it the scarier it becomes. So, I choose not to focus on it. I leave the things that are above my paygrade to some one being paid at that level. I worry about what’s in my hula hoop and just take the next indicated action.
At least, I usually do. And when I do it goes well. When I don’t….well, you’ve been paying attention. Here’s hoping the days (and nights) that come ahead are more restful for all of us. Thanks for listening. Be well.