It was still dark when I opened my eyes. Which was unsurprising. It’s always dark whenever I open my eyes these days. Now is the winter of our discontent and raging insomnia, as the old saying goes.
Or something like that.
But this dark was a different kind of dark. This wasn’t my usual infernal and endless 2 a.m. dark. I didn’t recognize this dark. This dark had a bit of, was that, no…a hint of dimness? I started to turn over in bed to look at the clock, ruthlessly crushing the hope that was struggling to rise in my chest on my way.
In the A.M.
I had slept through the night?
I looked at the clock again.
I had slept through the night.
I slowly sat up, careful not to disturb my husband lest his symphony of snores prematurely end before the big fart finale. I shuffled to the kitchen in my slippers. I started making the coffee, almost as though in a daze.
What is this odd feeling?
Is this…not tired?
Is this what feeling well-rested is like?
Like waking up not wanting to punch the world in the face?
As the last of my peaceful drowsiness wore off, I realized that was indeed what I was feeling. I smiled. This is what it must feel like to be a Disney princess. Those birds singing outside? That chubby squirrel eating a stolen bagel outside my window? Any moment now they would beg to come inside so they could help me get dressed.
Soon thereafter my kids woke up, rubbing their eyes and scratching at their bedhead.
“Good morning, my babies!” I cheerfully bellowed.
The kids froze, confused. Who was this creature smiling an authentic smile in front of them? And what happened to the swamp witch they called Mom?
Then, to really terrify them, I made an actual breakfast. Using the actual stove. And pots! And pans!
When the kids threw dual tantrums over being told to brush their teeth (a daily morning ritual) I did NOT scream back this time. I just gave them space to have those Big Feelings. Like one of those parents who actually read a parenting book.
My husband made three dad jokes that morning. I laughed at all three. And pinched his butt when he walked by me to get more coffee.
Later, we went to the library to pick up a stack of books.
“Can we stop at a playground on the way home?” the kids asked, already bracing themselves for the obvious “no” headed their way because one, it was 28 degrees outside and two, I wasn’t wearing my out-in-public “good” sweatpants.
“Sure!” I exclaimed.
“Really!?” they exclaimed right back.
We got home. I made hot cocoa. And popcorn. And let them have cookies because life is meant to be lived!
“You’re the best mom ever!” my son yelled as he threw his arms around my waist.
“I know, right!” I happily hollered back. “Now, what do y’all want for dinner?”
“Can I have sprinkles on mine?” asked my daughter, allowing a bit of hope to slip into her voice.
“You bet your sweet redheaded tuchus you can!”
She jumped up and hugged me too.
Oh, the person I could be if I got a good night’s sleep every night, I thought to myself as I did ALL THE VOICES during bedtime storytime. If I didn’t have to ration my energy throughout the day. If I could regulate my emotions (or even just one emotion occasionally). If my brain worked as designed instead of being held together by metaphorical duct tape and Elmer’s glue.
Maybe it won’t always be this bad, I tell myself as I get ready for bed. These are extraordinary times, and not in the good way. But maybe it’s getting better. Maybe I can be my old self soon.
Maybe sleep will stay this time.
Maybe every day can be like today.
I close my eyes.
And welcome the dark.