Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hoot, hoot

Staying up late is my grandest indulgence, an indulgence paid for by purple undereyes, lethargic mornings, and, occasionally, a shorter fuse. Sometimes I feel guilty about the short fuse. My children deserve a chipper, well-rested mother. But quiet, uninterrupted time is in short supply in my life, and I crave it more than I crave sleep. In fact, I think I'd be less chipper with more sleep and no time to myself (if I could ever really describe myself as "chipper" at all.)

Secretly, I like it best I'm the only one awake, when every other soul is asleep, and I can turn off the always chattering television, putter around on the computer or the sewing machine, and eat more ice cream (or cookies or potato chips) than I should.

I longingly remember a time before Paige, when Owen was 3 and Mitch was 1, and they napped at the same time. We'd go out in the morning to shop or play, come home for lunch, read a few books, and then they'd sleep for 2 hours. Back then, I went to bed at a more reasonable hour, but I had those 2 hours after lunch to indulge myself. I never get time like that during the day now. Mitch doesn't nap anymore, and when he's in school, Paige is awake and at my heels. Everlastingly.

So I have to wait until after they're all in bed, which usually means, at the earliest, 9:30, since our bedtime routine starts at 8:30 and can take longer than an hour to complete, depending on the children's level of cooperation. That means if I stay up later than midnight, I have 2 or 3 blissful hours to do whatever I want, more enriching to my psyche than extra sleep, I promise.

Sometimes, I'm oddly happy when I can't fall asleep. Legitimate insomnia absolves me of any responsibility for and guilt about night owling. The quiet between 2 and 4 am is a deep quiet, very restful to my spirit. Being awake in that quiet gives me the purest feeling of aloneness I can hope to attain now that I'm married and breeding.

Maybe it's irresponsible. Maybe sleep deprivation is the source of all my flaws: my scatterbrain, my impatience, my clumsiness. But sleep is a cheap substitute for mental rest, the kind I need to keep my core intact.

Plus, I'm here to tell you, ice cream after midnight tastes twice as good.

{image from Night Owl Paper Goods}

8 comments:

Mama P said...

I love your owl. It's very pretty and retro. And BTW, you are not alone in staying up late. I'm doing it now, and it's heavenly. I love checking out other sites. I'd love to sew and do crafts such as yours. One day I will try it...

Margarette Burnette said...

I'm with you on wanting to stay up late. But I've found that a lethargic morning is better than a chaotic one, and that's what I get when I don't take time to unwind at night and get ready for the next day.

BTW, you deserve kudos for getting your kids to sleep at the same time, even if that stage is over. I could never get my two boys to do that.

-Margarette

Mommy Cracked said...

I feel the same exact way. I get so much more accomplished when I have alone time.

MadMad said...

Ha! I was just sitting here feeling guilty about the nice evening I've had, since everyone - even my husband - went to bed at 7:30, sick as dogs, and I have had an evening to myself (and can even go to bed at a reasonable hour). Of course, a part of me is scared I'm going to get what they have, which I suppose I'll deserve, for being so mean as to have enjoyed my alone time...

momma's heart said...

I have three kids, 6,4 and 14 months. I'm an incurable night owl, often staying up until 1:30 am. No question that I don't get enough sleep (5 hours), but, like you mentioned, I know I would be even grouchier if I didn't get any wind-down time.

I found your blog from a comment you made on Babycenter. You're a skilled writer. It all flows so nicely and is always witty. This is my second visit. Do you write for BabyCenter? Or another sight?

Jenny from Chicago said...

What a great post. Very lovely writing. I wish there were more of this kind of thing in the blog-os-sphere.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I know what you mean - sometimes quiet time alone seems far more important and needed than sleep. That said, I have sadly had to realize that my body doesn't agree with me. Especially while pregnant. So I go to sleep at 10pm every night, and sometimes nap during the day while the kids are napping (mine are 3 and 1). I miss my quiet time, and I always feel like I'm "wasting" the time when they're asleep...but apparently this is the only way my body can do it. I envy you your ability to stay up late and still function!

momma's heart said...

I know who you are now! I read your posts all the time. It is hard to figure out what blogs on the rolls match which regular posters. Anyway, I am so glad I found your personal blog because all the family blogs I read are about 2 girl families or 1 brother,1 sister families. It will be nice to hear how another mom deals with the endless little-boy energy. My fourteen-month-old loves her brothers and wants to be involved in everything they do. Keeping her safe from her own curiosity and their rambunctiousness is really hard. She's so sweet though! What a blessing to finally have a girl! Love my boys to pieces though, too.

Take care!
Pam