My least favorite hours of the day are 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon. Hell is breaking out on the homefront, or at least minor skirmishes, and I have unfinished business of my own whose chances for completion are slipping away. Often there’s mindless driving, conversations on repeat, a million or two texts. Then things turn frenetic, like the Wall Street bell is going off at 5:00 and where are we at with our margin???
After five, there’s a lull. Can’t return that call because the office is closed. Today’s list is going to just bleed into tomorrow’s. I might try to finish a project I’m working on, but if I do dinner’s late and that’s not a happy repercussion. Yesterday I locked myself inside my office because I had a 5:00 deadline the kids and husband all knew about—or at least remembered when the door handle jiggled. But at 5:10 there was banging, “are you done?” and “we have a surprise!”, all silly nonsense meant to get the point across: evenings are time to love and be loved, talk and be talked to, smile and laugh because kids and dogs are cute and funny and my husband's a rogue charmer.
This is the best part of my day. I go to bed happy, with tea and a book, but usually only get a few pages in. I fall asleep easy because I’m tired.
A few hours later I wake up, like I have all my life. Sometimes my mind is leaking awful, crazy stuff because I have a vivid imagination, and plenty of real-life experience from raising nine kids to fuel a lifetime of nightmares about what could happen to them. But mostly I’m just…awake. I’ll slowly realize my light sleep/dozing stage is not sinking back into slumber and unless I do something else, all the pedestrian stuff I have to take care of between 2:00-4:00 the next afternoon will nibble away my peace until I start making lists and isn’t that a waste of time.
So I grab a book, pretty fast. I have books I can read on my tablet or phone, but I really love paper so that means I need a light. Any will do--bedside lamp, headlamp, book clip light, light wedge or flashlight. I’ll vary all these depending on my husband’s state of wakefulness, and whether I woke up anxious or scared or am simply gearing up for a good read. I might grab a ginger ale.
|Night walk through the house|
These are my favorite hours, between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning. I learn all kinds of stuff. I laugh. I cry. If a book’s really good I can’t go back to sleep so sometimes I’ll grab the snoozer, a book that won’t hold my interest in hopes I’ll doze off. My nightstand is a cluttered book repository and always has been, dating back to the bunkbed I shared with my brother for years, or the bed box I had my parents build in the one house they remodeled. One mattress, two bookshelves, three walls and a clip light.
There was an ad campaign for RIF when I was growing up, Reading is FUNdamental. Although the promised trucks never pulled up anywhere I remember I took the motto to heart. And since life is really busy with work and family, school and play, I take my reading time anywhere it appears and don’t complain.
My husband calls them zero hours, when the world has no expectations of me so they’re mine alone. And if I had a choice, I’d sleep through them. Some nights I do, magically.
But when I don’t I’m never lonely, and it’s not because of the books. It’s because for the last 12,775 nights (or so) I’ve shared a very cozy bed with a very lovely man. If I turn on the light he winces, rolls over and goes back to sleep. If I chuckle he pats my hand. If I’m upset he’ll scoop me close, and if I’m freaked out he’ll talk me through, often without opening his eyes.
If he’s awake I tell him stories. And though his sleep would surely benefit from fewer Lisa shenanigans, he radiates a sense that all is well and I’m free to do whatever gets me through the night.
That’s side-by-side life with a nightwaker. New adventures every night.