It may sound like an odd resolution- I haven’t seen it up there with “lose weight… spend more time with family.. save more money” that have made mine- and many other’s- lists in years past.
I would like to plan to lose weight, organize my closet, finish that book, write that grant, be more patient, cook healthier meals, but the reality is that I can do all of that- if I get more sleep.
When I get enough sleep, I am a better mother. A better wife. A healthier, happier me. More productive at work. Overall, life is just better when I sleep.
So, why? you might ask… why don’t you get enough sleep?
Because… because the list of things to get done never ends. Because I work all day long and then come home all evening where I make dinner, deal with homework, deal with various hysteria of the day, deal with laundry, deal with after-school sports, deal with finishing a project from work that has to be finished and deal with the pets. This doesn’t include I deal with autism and attention deficit and Tourette’s and anxiety and depression- not all of these located exclusively within the children.
And I do have help with all of these- my husband does a fair amount of all of this. If not for him, the house would never be vacuumed and our laundry would never be done- and let’s not talk about the trash. He certainly works as well.
But it is an inescapable fact that while he is a foot solider in the daily battles of our life, I am the general. I keep track of what gets done when and when we need to buy more cheese and when to replenish the children’s lunch money. We have a calendar on our refrigerator that I maintain. I have the schedules of the four of us, the college, the school system, the needs of the pets, and who goes where when all in my head.
Add to this rather typical busy life a husband who is leading the college through accreditation and various reports that are due- and a book draft of mine due at the end of January and a research project underway- and well, we’re busy. Our life is an amalgam of disability and giftedness. We have pediatric neurologist appointments (end of January) scheduled right after a weekend of Georgia Tech’s science camp that overlaps with a chess tournament.
It’s not terrible. It’s pretty ordinary- with a twist or two. But it would be helped if I could get more sleep.
Because you see, after I tuck them into bed- a 45-minute and 37-step process for Ray- and clean up after dinner and throw a load of laundry in and finish grading, I am so frazzled and drained that I stay up.
It’s quiet in our house from 10:00 on. The children are asleep. My husband is asleep. Heck, even my dog is asleep. And that silence is nurturing, healing. I don’t appreciate silence in the morning as much- the silence at 5:00am (not that I’ve seen it much, but once in a while, I blunder into it) is filled with potential- with the pressure of what has to get done that day. It’s filled with energy and lists. 5:00am silence is ready for action.
10:00pm quiet is relaxing. It’s curl-yourself-up-in-the-couch-with-a-good-book kind of silence. It’s cozy and it’s healing. It’s my time- my time to unwind, to reconnect the dots of my fragmented personality. It’s the time of appreciation and still.
But 10:00pm quiet leads into 11:00pm silence, which is a blink away from midnight stillness. By midnight, I’m falling asleep over the book and I drift, connected-ME again- off to sleep. Only to wake groggy at 6:00am, with that list pressing down on me, that energy of things I gotta get done.
And that tiredness dogs me all day long. It distracts me at work; it makes me cranky. It makes me less able to deal with the tantrums, the drama, the trying-to-figure-out-what-she’s-trying-to-say. It means that I stare at that blank computer screen that is supposed to turn into Chapter 4. It means that we have macaroni and cheese, once again- for dinner because I forgot to buy whatever-it-was we needed for something else.
So after a long, fractured day, I relish that 10:00pm quiet. I feel my scattered attention and anxiety drain away in the quiet. I feel back to me again in the quiet.
But I gotta go to bed before midnight. I gotta find a way to find quiet before 10:00pm.
And so- my New Year’s resolution is to get more sleep. Because if I get more sleep, all of the rest of can happen too.