Thursday, January 30, 2014

In the Midnight Hour

I lay in bed, kindled from my slumber by what I do not know, but the room is still dark. I can feel my wife next to me, hear her breathe as she rests from the long day before and for the the long day ahead. I listen for some indication as to the cause of this mid-night moment of wakefulness. The dog lay panting in her bed, the baby quiet in his. I allow my eyes to close again, drifting back to the world of dreams and peace. There will be enough clamor in the morning, I need not go searching for it tonight. For with the sun comes the affairs of the day; breakfast and bus and carpool and diapers and questions and answers and not a minute to sit back and close my eyes. My eyes are too heavy anyway to even check the time. I don't want to know. Knowing brings responsibility and breaks the magic of the night, calling to mind the time I have left, or affirming how little sleep I've so far gathered.

So for now, I do that luxury which I will not be afforded in the morning. For now I close my eyes to the night. For now I embrace the peace and the darkness, for I know the night is short, and sleep my friend.

The day dawns much like the waking of the night before. It arrives early, a dark room, but my wife no longer sleeps. Nor does our son. Groggy and tired, I roll from the bed, tossing the inviting sheets aside, accepting of my fate as the day awaits. My clothes lie in a heap by the bed where they fell the night before as I collapsed into it, desperate for a long drag from the one drug every parent desires. I know the night isn't long enough as I'll head to the kitchen to call on the other drug that keeps me going.

The French press stares longingly at me as I reach past it and my burr grinder for a quick fix. There will be time to do this properly later, but for now I need the simplest cup I can make. Like the sun that rises and the seasons change, I can always count on this bitter bean to be waiting for me when I rise. And so I scoop the grounds from the sealed canister and slop the water into old reliable. My old friend will be ready soon.

The action picks up as two kids come trudging into the room, wrested from their beds, obviously short on sleep as well. There is a baby handoff, a blur of oats and juice, and finally the mad rush out the door to make the bus on time...

The days are long. Most days are too long, but among the responsibilities, among the sleep deprivation, among the rush are the happy moments. Too easily lost in the shuffle are the quiet times between diapers and meals. The other drug of choice for parents. The one that makes you smile inside and out, no matter how tired you are. Where time stands still as my daughter drops her toys and rushes from another room to hug me before I leave for work. Or when my son smiles, slyly and ear to ear as he asks me to play with him, knowing that no matter how busy or tired I am, I want to be on the floor driving trucks over each other with him. Even the silence of a 2 A.M. stirring, these are the moments we remember, the ones that make the rest of it worthwhile.


  1. It's funny how having kids really is kinda like being on drugs - complete with the moments of euphoria and the agony of coming down after a bad trip. The trick is figuring out how to make sure those moments of euphoria don't get harder and harder to achieve. Sleep makes a big difference . . .

    1. Sleep makes all the difference! Thankfully, this kid has slept fairly well for us, and these short nights are few.