I’m not sure what your house looks like at 3am, but it’s probably something like this: quiet, dark, and everyone sleeping in their own beds. If this describes you,
I hate you I am jealous. Because around here, it’s like Chernobyl.
Granted in the past going-on-two-and-half-years since Atticus was born, we’ve had one or two blissfully full nights of sleep where everyone managed to remain in their designated sleeping zones in the hours between 10pm and 5am–maybe three–but this is not the way it usually looks.
On a typical night by 3am, Attie will have been in and out of his crib a handful of times and out of (my) sheer exhaustion will have proceeded to sack out on or next to either my wife or me, where he tosses and turns the remainder of the night away. 7-month-old Vivi, who is the far better sleeper of the pair, often joins the pile around 5am and softly kicks my face, which is generally sandwiched between Attie’s starfish-like sprawl and my wife’s hip. We are awake, or awakened, every hour or two as the bed party shifts and then settles back in. By morning, our bedroom resembles a scene from Where The Wild Things Are.
I was recently taken to Phoenix for an overnight work trip, only the second time I’d spent the night away since Attie was born, the other being at the hospital for the birth of our daughter. In the moments leading up to the trip, I said my melancholy goodbyes to my wife and kids, but somewhere in the back of my head a little voice reminded me of the consolation prize lying ahead: a full night’s sleep in my own bed!
Cut to later that night in Phoenix as I turned out the light and stretched my limbs toward each corner of the dreamily soft bed, and closed my eyes knowing I wouldn’t have to open them for the next 7 heavenly hours. I drifted off swiftly, and a fly on the wall would have seen the ear-to-ear smile on my face as I slept.
Now, you’ve heard this, but Arizona is dry. However, unless you’ve really experienced it, you don’t fully appreciate what this means, exactly. And I’m telling you, It’s no effing* joke dry. As I woke up in the middle of the night not only was my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, my eyes were thirsty.
Granted, I had been treated to a fantastic bottle of wine the evening before, but we’re no stranger to that variety of proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy**. I have easily consumed my fair share of the sweet, sweet liquor in LA–which isn’t exactly swampland by the way–and not had to apply chapstick to my gums in the morning in order to smile without them cracking.
Another complicating factor was that like most places in Arizona I’d imagine, it is dark at 3am. Like, Stevie Wonder dark. Sure, it’s dark in LA at 3am, too, but let’s just say the amount of light that slips past my blackout shades at home would blind any self-respecting Arizona possum or other night-dwelling desert critter. Come to think of it, do they even have possums in Arizona? I’d be willing to bet no, since they’d most likely just stumble around all night bumping into shit. Apparently my body felt this degree of darkness to be disconcerting as well.
So as I rubbed my dehydrated eyes, which squeaked like rubber chew toys for dogs–evidenced by a muffled woof of excitement from the pair of Bernese in the next room–and assessed the bedroom by the soft blue glow of my iPhone, I saw that my slumbering, subconscious self had done its best to replicate the state of chaos at home. Pillows were strewn about the room, ropes of blankets were snaked around the foot of the bed, and as I stood there a sheet stuck to my leg with a static electricity strong enough to power a small pueblo.
After drinking 17 glasses of water and applying vaseline to my face, I turned on a night-light app, regrouped the linens and eased back into that big empty bed. And proceeded to lie awake until morning, missing my sleep-challenged family.
*Efforts to reduce amount of swearing for kids’ sake. More here.
**This is the motto on not one, but two chef aprons my wife and I
bought decided we absolutely couldn’t live without after a particularly boozy Santa Barbara wine tasting tour a few years back. The other says, “I shot the shallot but I did not shoot the broccoli.”