A Brief Sleep

Most people don’t think about sleep. Sleep is a routine, nightly occurrence — many recumbent hours in absence of consciousness.

I think about sleep all the time, especially when it dangles out of reach. I’ve dealt with insomnia for years and spent countless wakeful nights wandering the house — sitting on the sidelines while everyone else slumbers.

But I’ve only mentioned insomnia a few times. Talking about my troubles invites others to weigh in with “drink a glass of milk” and “take a hot bath.” Or else they say, “I never have insomnia. I’m too tired and busy not to sleep.”

Ambien is my salve. Admittedly, I’m hooked — and I wish I could sever ties — but that pill’s a promise: my brain will shut down and let me be.

Last week, however, my prescription ran out and I forgot to refill it. Without my little friend, I fell asleep and woke right up again.

So I checked on the kids. I can’t help but gaze at them with raw envy. Nightly at 8:30, they are painted in a thick shellac of sleep. They shut down and go limp like cats, immune to any nocturnal disturbances. No one budges when I turn on the light and slam drawers full of clothes. They can sleep without pillows and blankets. Without a bed. Hadley used to roll out of hers…she’d stay asleep where she fell.

On this particular night I notice that we’ve forgotten Brynn. She goes to sleep in Hadley’s bed — or in rare instances — in Cayden’s top bunk. Martin and I leave her until we turn in, then move her to the crib to ensure her early-morning confinement.

But on this night we both forgot her. I climb up the ladder to snap this photo.

Kids shellacked in slumber.

Then I throw Brynn’s chubby, slack body over my shoulder and carefully descend the ladder. It’s the crib for her. TV for me.

Around 3:30 I decide to try again. I slide under the sheets and miraculously, doze off. I am actually asleep — although I’m too asleep to realize it. It’s only apparent when I’m rousted.

“Hey Mom? Mom, wake up.” I can feel Hadley’s breath on my shoulder. “Mom, are you awake?”

I am now. Awake. Again. “What? What’s the matter?”

“Brynn wants you. She wants to be back in Cayden’s bed.”

I look at the clock. 4:20 am. In the kids’ room, barely visible under the night-light I see Brynn, standing in her crib, motioning toward her brother.

Hadley is already back in bed. Fast sleep.