Oh, Sleep, you dark temptress. You dreamy seductress. You elusive lover. We’ve had a long and complicated relationship, haven’t we?
I hear people say, “He sleeps like a baby,” and I try to think back to the days when I, myself, was a baby. I suppose I slept like a baby then.
And how, exactly, does a baby sleep?
I’ve been mesmerized by my own babies as their bellies rise and fall with the rhythm of their sweet sleep breath. I’ve seen their little mouths as their pink baby lips purse and smile with their drunken milk dreams. I’ve watched those same mouths offer a tiny pucker, lower lip quivering as if they were harboring a cry. Babies really know how to sleep. It’s like they’ve always been intimate with your embrace, dark angel.
My dogs know how to sleep too. My youngest dog is a blanket dweller. He loves to burrow under a blanket and twist himself around in circles until the blanket is wrapped around him like a layered cocoon. From the comfort of this self-made swaddle, he sleeps deeply. His dreams are of running in the fields, chasing something he would be proud to catch, fending off the enemies that might challenge his prowess. He growls and yips. His feet jerk rhythmically as he runs through his dreams. What a glorious sleep my dog enjoys.
We used to be dearest friends, Sleep.
Whenever anyone invoked your name, I was secretly proud to say, “I can fall asleep anywhere.” It was true too. I could sleep well in the bed, on the couch, on the floor. Inside. Outside. I was a good sleeper. When we met at night, fell into bed, and embraced one another, it was always sweet. My life was full, but I always made room for you. It was easy. I loved you.
After I married and my children were in need of raising, our relationship began to hit some bumps. You can’t really blame me, Sleep. Kids need their mom to be alert at night. One never knows when a son might awaken after a day of too much excitement. A sick tummy, and now he’s puking in the bed. A mom has to be there to administer the Pepto Bismol and change the sheets, tuck the precious package back into his bed so he can fall back into your arms and be nurtured by you.
Girls need things too. Boyfriends break their hearts. How can a mom sleep when her girl’s heart is aching? Sometimes I listened as she cried herself back into your embrace. I loved the way you looked after my kids.
I was proud of us, Sleep.
Proud that we made it through those years. There were fits and starts, but all-in-all, we did pretty well, don’t you think?
The next few years were a piece of cake. The kids were in college. The house was quiet. My husband (always the good sleeper) had a way of lulling me to sleep. Even if I was reading, attentive to my book, I could always tell when he dropped into your ocean by the change in his breath. I would hear it deepen, lengthen. There was a richness to it that hadn’t been present two minutes before. I could feel him, hear him become seduced by you. I’ll admit, your affair sometimes made me jealous. You held him so intimately, and he fell into your arms so easily. I, on the other hand, resisted a little. It always took me longer to fully trust you. But once I trusted, I fell too, and you offered me your sweetness.
Things were going along well until I was captured by Menopause.
That f*cking bitch! She is a terror. She grabbed me, threw me against the wall, and stole you from me. She is so sinister in the ways she got between us. First, it was hot flashes. Do you even know how awful they are? The intense heat radiates to every cell of your body. Of course, it wakes you up! You kick the covers off and lay there until the sweat evaporates and causes you to feel chilled. You pull covers back on to get warm. Then the heat comes again. This cycle happens all flipping night!
There were other things she did to get between us, but I won’t belabor her evil. Just know that you can’t trust her. She is the one who ruined our relationship.
What has happened to us, Sleep? I really want to know. Have I done something to offend?
Menopause has moved along. She’s ruining someone else’s life now. But you have not come back to me. You know how I lay awake, saying my mantras, counting my sheep. I have a sound machine. I bought blackout curtains for you. I sometimes sneak into the medicine cabinet to swallow a Benadryl for you. I’m desperate. I’ll do anything to earn your love again.
I miss you, Sleep. I miss you, you dark temptress, you dreamy seductress, you elusive lover.