I battle insomnia in fits and starts. Currently, I am sleeping well. I hesitate to say, “sleeping like a baby” because anyone in her right mind knows babies are erratic and often problematic sleepers.
Sometimes, I am saddened when I begin sleeping well. The insomnia adds hours to the day and there’s precious quiet time to do stuff. My bathroom sparkles at 3:30 a.m., my expenses tallied, meals planned, winter clothes taken out.
A few weeks back, the night before Max’s first day of second grade, I was proud to have the children clean and bedded by 8 p.m. As I tucked him in, Max told me he was feeling a little ambivalent about the day ahead. He had laid out his clothes, bow tie and all, requested his lunch (quesadilla) and prepared his backpack.
At 8:20 he called me in to his room. “Mama, I can’t sleep.” Those words are such a trigger for me. There’s something wrong, some anxiety, malaise, illness. I tell myself that his difficulty is not a genetic trait. He will, in fact, sleep. It’s just that dreaded ambivalence.
I sit down next to him, snuggle a bit. We talk about his first day. I ask him if he’s tried counting sheep. “Of course, mom. I’m already up to 218.” I am surprised by the number, I’m even more surprised by the fact that he knows the counting sheep routine. Honestly? I don’t think I’ve ever counted sheep, so I don’t quite know what to tell him.
“What do the sheep look like?” I ask, stalling for time, for an answer.
“They look like. . . . sheep, mom.”
Of course they do. “Are they lining up to jump over the fence?” I inquire. He scrunches up his nose, opens his eyes a bit wider.
“What, are they just all lined up and you’re counting them?”
“Yeah..." he fishes.
I throw my hands up, “No wonder, Max! They have to jump over the fence. They sort of take a running start and jump over the fence. Count them mid-jump.”
He humors me. How do I know this? Why do I try to pass this off as the missing link? I don’t know, but I do.
Max is asleep when I check on him again.
When I begin a bout of insomnia again, I wonder if I will count sheep. Will they leap the fence or will they pay the bills, scrub the stove, and put in a load of laundry? I’ll let you know. It’s my missing link.
Laurie Nardone lives with her two boys in Beverly, MA.