Darkness never bothered me; there’s a kind of solace in it. I pace, silently, twelve steps, from the kitchen to the dining room and pause. The curtains gently sway from the breeze outside, whispering of winter and cold nights and snowfall. Eight steps, I barely avoid my younger son’s fallen car, and I’m in the living room. Staring out the window at the trucks that pass. They’re my only company this late at night.
Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. Maybe I shouldn’t have slept for two hours in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe I shouldn’t have paced the house all night the night before.
Maybe I shouldn’t have. But I did.
Eight steps and I’m back in the dining room, right outside the children’s door. I can hear Jake snoring in his sleep. I can see the dark lump that is my younger son, against the light sheet. I can imagine Rudy’s butt up in the air, face plastered against the bed.
Twelve steps and I’m in the kitchen, outside my bedroom. I can hear the susurration of my husband’s breathing machine. My pillow lies taunting me, tempting me, begging me to join it.
I’m so tired. In my bones and my muscles, my eyes and my brain. I want to sleep. I need to sleep. But something stops me, something prevents me.
I worry too much. About tomorrow and tomorrow. About the days after the days after today. About next year and five years from now and twenty years after that.
Will we find a place to move to, in a district where Jake can be stealth? Twelve steps and I’m outside his door.
Will our insurance cover the blockers he’ll need to delay puberty, to give him the much needed time to decide his future, without going down a path that is nearly irreversible? Eight steps and I’m in the living room.
Will he find friends and allies? Life Partners or love interests? Will he be met with hatred and violence or acceptance and love? Eight steps and I can hear his breathing, his soft, innocent, only a child breathing. I want to brush his hair back from his face and kiss his cheek and hold him as tight as I possibly can.
Will he be allowed to live a normal, full and happy life? Will he be able to do all the things every parent dreams of for their kids: sleep away camps and sleep overs, prom and senior class trips, weddings and children and college and a career?
Twelve steps and I’m back outside my bedroom door, standing in the kitchen. I’m thirsty and I’m tired and I’m restless and I’m scared. I know that sleep would help. Sleep would help me process, help me think, help my mood. Sleep would help this choking fear and loneliness that chases me through the night. Through the kitchen and through the dining room and through the living room. Night after night, past my children’s door.
If I stop, if I let my guard down for even one night, what will happen to my precious son? Who will be there to stand guard outside his door, circling round and round again, to ward off all of the dangers, seen and unseen.
Sleep must wait until my children have grown and I know that they are safe.
Eight steps and I stand outside their bedroom door.
Sleep, my darling angels, my darling sons. Mommy is here to keep you safe tonight.
This post was written as a part of ChicagoNow Blogapalooz-Hour Volume XXIII. Our challenge this month was: “Write about sleep and the impact it has on your life or at any point in your life.”
Don’t miss my video on Listen to Your Mother where I share my story of Jake’s transition.
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