Monday, March 31, 2008

A lifelong relationship with sleep

I took a nap the other day, and I have since come to the conclusion that I love sleep. I’m not talking about love like the way you would say, “oh, I love that sweater you’re wearing.” I’m talking real love.Serious love.As-much-as-your-children love.(Well, maybe that not much, but still some pretty intense feelings.)I haven’t always loved sleep so much. In fact, I remember as a child fighting it with everything I had. I used to hate going to bed. Not only would I potentially miss something very exciting or fun, but I would also be left out of my parents’ discussions which I was sure were all about me. So I would give the old line, “but I’m not tired” through half-closed eyes and my head would fall to one side until it fell far enough that I would jolt back awake, only to respond, “what? I wasn’t sleeping…”Eventually I’d give in or they’d yell loud enough and I would have to go to bed, where I was convinced that there were kidnappers just outside my window, waiting to come in and snatch me up. There were no monsters in my closet, just masked-men waiting to haul me away in a van without windows. In my cleverness, I figured that if they didn’t see me, they would pass by my house. So I would lay totally flat under the covers, and attempt to re-make my bed on top of me, pillows and all.And there I would rest and sweat and breathe through a tiny opening between the pillows. And I would say my goodnight prayers, pray for my family and friends, thank God for all of the good things in my life, and also beg of Him to make the kidnappers really think there was no one laying in my bed.Then I got a little older, and in time made my way into the world of academia. This was a time of flux in my life, because although I really loved sleep, I thought I never had the time for it. Between social events and writing reports, I consumed coffee by the pot-ful and often fell asleep right there on my computer keyboard. Unfortunately, the sleep I missed during the night hours was often made up in classrooms or lecture halls, where the dreams of my catnaps would intertwine with the school subject and one time I swear I wrote “Bob Evans has good breakfasts” on my environmental ethics exam.Thank goodness for erasers.But here I am now, an adult by most definitions. I have had three children, all which have kept me awake so much that I haven’t slept through the night more than four times in the past seven years. I spend incredible amounts of time preparing them and coaxing them to go to sleep—buttoning PJs, brushing teeth, reading stories, rocking babies—all so that I can stay up late and do things like write these columns and fold laundry without someone jumping in the basket. And while going to bed late at night is still good, what I truly adore are afternoon naps. Especially the “official” naps where you can actually lay down with the blinds closed and a fuzzy blanket pulled up to your chin. (Unfortunately, with a full house, these official naps come around about as often as Haley’s comet.) All snuggled up, you turn off the ringer of your phone and put on the TV for background noise and forget about all of the chores waiting for you. The house is quiet and there’s that peacefulness around that’s so calm it’s almost scary.You can lay there and drift off without worrying about kidnappers or mixing dreams and essay questions and you realize that true love is in the air and that life is good.

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