Quiet Dark Mornings

 

Dark Quiet Mornings

During my years of infertility, I had insomnia. (“My years of infertility”, like those years were a sickness.) But the truth is, I’ve always suffered from insomnia, even when I was a little girl. My bedroom windows looked just like my kitchen windows do, this morning. Dark, with my reflection, shiny black asphalt outside, damp, cold, ground. Always the damp, cold ground? My house quiet, like the one I’m in now. Everyone else sleeping or off to work already, then and now.

Then I thought about my yard, the ponies and the chickens. I can never get the image of the big, frozen, cat I found one morning. There was frost covering the ground. I had woken up extra early. As the sun rose, I put on my jeans and boots and took a walk. I went right outside our fence, right before the field. There it was. I can remember its grey frozen, fur.

In my life now, as a woman who is close to fifty, I can’t go for a morning walk because I have children sleeping. During my infertility period, I would take a walk with my dog. If it was still dark, like it is now, I would carry a flashlight up the trail. By the time I turned around it would be light. Sometimes I would imagine zombies or serial killers hiding behind the trees in the dark. Then I would tell myself I was being paranoid. I knew that there were coyotes, owls, mice, racoons, squirrels, slugs, ants, spiders, and other earthly creatures. I found comfort in that and it helped me get through the insomnia, the fatigue.

Now I start my morning, first I wake up with the song, “Blaze and the Monster machines” ringing in my head. Over and over it goes. I try to make myself count sheep, but my mouth is dry, and my lips are chapped. So, I try to write my book in my head.  That’s O.K., except I’m entertaining the hamster wheel. Which reminds me of the time when I was a little girl and I couldn’t sleep. It was still dark out, again, like it is this morning. I went to check on my hamster and I saw tan in a bowl on the shelf that was collecting rain water from our leaking roof. It was my little hamster. He had escaped his cage and drown.

Back to now, when I wake up in the early morning with insomnia I run through a list in my mind. What I have to do today with the kids. How many times I need to drive them somewhere? What appointments we have? I figure out what I have to do and what time I can go to bed tonight. Because I know I’m going to be so tired and barely make it, but there will be so much that other people will need from me. My purpose.

When I started writing this, I was thinking about how everything’s always the same and I was the same person before I went through infertility and now. I still had insomnia. I still loved spending time alone. But I just realized my purpose in life changed. Our purpose in life changes all the time. Now my main purpose in life is to take care of Jack and Fiona. Plus, so many more things, but I feel like I’m in survival mode. When I was a kid, it was experiencing mode. When Jack and Fiona were babies it was easier for me to be in experiencing mode. I could take a day off and stay home. I just took care of them, when they started crawling and walking there were so many activities we could do, they would be interested in everything, or cry or go to sleep. I had time alone still. Quiet time. Non-driving days.

Now, Jack and Fiona go through periods of quiet play, but more often they need so much attention. They want to talk or show me something, mostly they just want something from me-food, love, discipline.

I still love book time, when they love the story and are fully engaged. And quiet! Now though, sometimes Jack starts acting badly, but it’s mostly because he’s over tired and really just wants to go to bed. Fiona always loves Storytime.

It’s almost 7:00, and I don’t know how much time I have left. I hung up two pieces of white paper and opened all my notebooks to clean white paper. I might run in my studio and make some marks. I will be much more relaxed and readier to just experience life today. Get into the Zen of driving around town.

I hear them talking. Change of plans. It’s make breakfast time.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist