Archive for May 10th, 2009

Checking on the kids

I startle awake and find myself on the couch again. The lights are off. The television still on but barely audible. I remember now, it was a trick I play with myself. “I won’t fall asleep on the couch again but the TV is just too loud,” I tell myself. “I won’t fall asleep on the couch but that light is just too bright. I won’t go to sleep on the couch tonight but it won’t hurt to close my eyes for just a minute.”

But still I find myself on the couch coming back to reality, wondering how it is that I wake up right in the middle of the weather every night. Is it coincidence or an internal clock of some sort? Deciding simultaneously that it doesn’t really matter what it is and that it is probably the music they play to introduce the weather, I slowly sit up and look around making a silent list of things that have to be done before I go up.

First on the list is to clear my head. Don’t think about anything that might wake me up more. Don’t think about the other lists that await me. Don’t open my eyes all the way. That way I can still sleep when I make it up stairs.

Crossing the room to go into the kitchen I realize the dogs haven’t gone out. Dogs with less bladder control than Aunt Sally either go out now or wake us up at five to be let out. Searching the house for the dogs the list begins to grow and spread its tentacles across the room. Pick up the baby’s toys he has strewn across the floor between the time I picked them up last and when I put him to bed. Oh, and there is another sippy cup full of milk. Before I even pick it up I know that means I will clean the kitchen, just a little, before I finally make it up the stairs. Just throw the cup and the other things the older children and my husband have left sitting around into the dishwasher. And I might as well start the dishwasher. Great, the dishwasher is full. Better empty that and if I am going to do that I might as well set the table for breakfast.

With the kitchen cleaned and the table set I rush to the back door to let the dogs in before they wake up the neighbors. With the dogs placed quietly back on their couch in the basement it is time to lock up. This is the when the public service advertisements begin to play in my head. What happens in the middle of the night if there is a fire? Will the path to the doors be clear? Of course not. So I pick up the back packs and shoes and place them carefully to the side of the door. Placing the kid’s coats just on top so they will be completely ready to go in the morning.

With all the lights off and the doors locked I head up the stairs, arms full of things I have picked up downstairs. Two birds with one stone, right? I enter each of their rooms with their things in tow and place them out of the exit path but where they are sure to see them in the morning, kiss them each on the head and move on to the next room.

Finally, fumbling in the dark of my own room, listening to the increasingly loud snoring coming from my bed and trying not to trip over the things that litter my own exit path, I make it to the closet where I dump running shoes, slippers and dress shoes, look at the mess that is my closet and decide that tomorrow I really will clean it out. Heading to the bathroom I brush and floss, brush my hair so maybe it will be less of a rat’s nest in the morning and once again head into the obstacle course that has become my room.

Maybe this is why I fall asleep on the couch at night. Maybe it is my way of resting up for the work of making it up the stairs at the end of the day. Maybe it is the sleep I need because it is the sleep I don’t have to think about and plan for. Maybe.

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